Legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that Robin van Persie wanted to return to the club in 2015. He said this during a discussion about his autobiography, ‘Arsene Wenger: My Life in Red and White’, according to the Daily Mail.
Van Persie left North London for Manchester United in 2012. He refused to sign a new contract and with just one year on his deal, the Gunners sold him to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side for £24 million. Wenger said they were unable to find other clubs who were willing to match that offer and the bid made by United was significant at the time for a player in the final year of his contract.
The Dutchman had a fantastic debut campaign at Old Trafford and played an instrumental role in helping United win the Premier League title. He scored 30 goals and provided 15 assists in 48 appearances across all competitions. At the end of the season, Ferguson retired and was replaced by David Moyes. Van Persie struggled with injuries over the next few years and was deemed surplus to requirements by Moyes’ replacement, Louis van Gaal.
He was sold by his former Netherlands manager to Turkish side Fenerbahce in 2015. The former Feyenoord striker called Wenger and told him he wanted to return to the Emirates. The Frenchman said that was impossible as Van Persie was coming towards the end of his career and the North London club were investing in young talent.
A return to Arsenal would have been challenging for the player considering his poor relationship with Gooners after his controversial move to Manchester United.
On Van Persie, Wenger said:
“In 2012, he announced his intention not to extend his contract. All the big clubs were courting him. I sold him to Manchester United.”
“The supporters were angry with me for this but we could not match the offer. I managed to negotiate his departure for £24million, which was a huge amount at the time for a player with a year left on his contract. I had only the interest of the club in mind.”
“My relationship with Alex Ferguson and Manchester United had improved by then, but every transfer is a polite game of poker where you attempt to not give anything away.”
“Van Persie had a fantastic first six months at Old Trafford: he put the team on track for the Premiership title and made it even more difficult for us.”
“But after three years of the four that he signed for, he was injured and Ferguson [note: it was actually Louis van Gaal] sold him to the Turkish club Fenerbahce.”
“He called me because he wanted to come back, but it was impossible: he was at the end of his career and we were investing in young players.”