Arsene Wenger has revealed he had been reluctant to allow Mathieu Flamini to resume his Arsenal career before agreeing to re-sign the French midfielder last month.
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Flamini had turned down an offer to remain at Arsenal when he signed for AC Milan in 2008, and Wenger has previously expressed his disappointment at his decision to walk away from the Emirates Stadium.
However, the Gunners boss believes the 29-year-old has come to appreciate that the decision to leave was misguided.
“First of all I believe that he realised what he had here,” Wenger told the Arsenal official website. “When you’re very young, it is difficult to understand what he had at Arsenal.
“I must say I was reluctant to sign him again, but he was so honest in his statement that he wants to play the kind of football we play, that he wants to help us to win. He convinced me through his attitude and his desire in training that he will be the right signing for us.
“It was his attitude. He could have gone somewhere else. He had offers but he wanted to put it right with this club and I think he felt somewhere that he had something to bring to the piece here. He was determined to do that.”
Wenger hopes Flamini -- who started the 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday -- can emerge as a key figure in an attack-minded midfield that has been accused of lacking some defensive muscle.
“Flamini is absolutely crucial to the balance of the team,” he added. “He had not played since May and when you see how well he came in, it shows you how focused and how dedicated he was in his preparation.
“He’s got what is needed in every team. I wouldn’t say we lacked that as much as people say, but he is of course important for the balance of the team that we have players with his qualities.”