Arsene Wenger admits he is baffled as to why Robin van Persie chose to leave Arsenal to join Manchester United this summer – and says it hurts to see the Dutchman play for their Premier League rivals.
Van Persie completed his £23 million move to Old Trafford after a drawn-out transfer saga across the summer, and Wenger says he still ‘does not understand’ why the 29-year-old felt the need to swap London for Manchester.
Writing in his Europsport column, Wenger said: “Now he's gone, don't ask the fans to understand what is not understandable. Even I do not understand, and I am deep at the heart of the decisions.
“You have to deal with it. That's life. We are here to help people to express their talents. A coach must have a positive influence on their players' lives.
“I would have preferred Van Persie to sign for a club in a foreign country, in order to avoid playing against him several times per season, but it's a fine challenge for us to prove we can exist after such a move, to show we can score goals, play well and survive everything.”
Despite his confusion over the reasons behind Van Persie’s departure, Wenger refused to criticise the striker, instead describing him as an ‘exceptional’ talent before insisting his striker partnership with Wayne Rooney can work if given time.
“RVP and Wayne Rooney have everything to play together,” he said.” Sometimes, great goalscorers don't really fit together.
“But if you analyse the pair's technical skills on the pitch, it can work. It will require some understanding, from the technical and from the personal point of view, but their separate success will increase the links between them. If those links exist and if they both score, it will be very, very strong.