Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted that the telephone conversations he held with Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2012 were not crucial to his decision to sell Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
It was believed that the intervention made by the then-United boss Ferguson was vital to the Gunners opting to agree a move for Van Persie, but Wenger has dismissed the theory ahead of his latest meeting with his former captain at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Instead, the Frenchman believes the influence of Ferguson’s assistant coach at the time, Rene Meulensteen, was a key factor in the Netherlands international wanting to join the Red Devils.
“Honestly, what convinced me in our talks [with Ferguson over Van Persie] was just his number [the fee] and it was the head-to-head talks I held with Robin van Persie many, many times that convinced me that I had to sell him,” Wenger said.
“Robin van Persie had been convinced by the Dutch coach [Meulensteen] who was at Manchester United and that played a bit part in that.
“I think in the end I had to decide, do I do this or not, knowing that I would get huge criticism. At the end of the day, I felt it was the best thing to do.
“It’s strange [to see him in a United shirt]. For me he is an Arsenal man. I took him when he was a very, very young man and we have gone together through very difficult periods. He became a world-class player and for me, he is an Arsenal player.
“Robin van Persie was 29 when he left and he was impatient. Some players saw the other big clubs buying world-name players and they lost a little bit of confidence we can compete with them. It’s understandable, but we have always been consistent with how the club should be run and hopeful that we could turn the corner.”
Wenger went on to warn his team that their early promise in the Premier League and Champions League this season will count for nothing unless they maintain their form over the coming months.
“There is a lot to do,” he said. “We cannot come to the conclusion that we are in the position where we can relax. We have done well in the last two games, but we have won nothing yet.
“We have matured. We are not rushing in our play, we are not panicking. The confidence level is not certain forever and it goes up and down with the results of the team. Because our recent results are good, the confidence is higher.”