Wenger backs Carrick for PFA award
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has nominated one of Manchester United's champions as a worthy winner of the PFA Footballer of the Year award - but it is not former Gunners captain Robin van Persie who has earned his endorsement.
Instead, Wenger hailed midfielder Michael Carrick as the outstanding player in this season's Premier League, believing he deserves the nod ahead of Van Persie and Tottenham's Gareth Bale.
Wenger was full of praise for the 31-year-old, suggesting the "underrated" England star has the quality to fit into any side in European football.
"Carrick is a quality passer and he could play for Barcelona, he would be perfectly suited to their game," believes Wenger. "I would choose Carrick (for this award) as Robin won it last season.
"He has a good vision and is an intelligent player, and it is for what he has achieved in his whole career as well. It is this year or never for him, just because he is 31 and he has been exceptional for United.
"You have a few other choices. Robin (van Persie) stayed for a while without scoring and the PFA vote happened during that period so that could go against him. You had (Luis) Suarez but he has bitten into his reward!
"You have Gareth Bale, but I think Carrick is an underrated player in England and sometimes not only should the goal scorer be rewarded but the real players at the heart of the game."
Meanwhile, Wenger has revealed more details about the events that led to Van Persie's £24 million move to Manchester United last summer, insisting his captain told him he "did not want to be at this club any more" in the days before his exit.
While the Arsenal boss insisted money was not the chief motivation for the Dutchman making his move, he conceded his club would not have matched the offers on the table from the two Manchester clubs as "the scale was massive."
"It is difficult for all the players when a player does not want to be here, to force him to be here and know that at the end of the season the club does not get anything with knowing that he might not contribute as well," stressed Wenger, ahead of Van Persie's return to Emirates Stadium as a United player this Sunday.
"We had a frank exchange of views. He's an honest guy, Robin. He tells you the truth. The truth is what you want. He was respectful until the end and we cannot complain.
"He had arrived at the age of 29 and thought, 'can we win the championship here or do I have more chances to win it somewhere else'. There's a kind of timescale - like for a woman who has no baby at 39. She starts to think I have not much time left now."