Arsenal defender Andre Santos has apologised to Gunners fans following his embarrassing shirt episode with Robin van Persie at Old Trafford.
The Brazilian left-back caused outrage amongst away fans in Arsenal’s loss to Manchester United last Saturday afternoon when he took the shirt of his former captain at half time before walking into the tunnel.
His manager Arsene Wenger admitted it was not a very good idea, but Santos has now apologised and attempted to explain the reasons behind his actions.
“Robin’s departure to United did not turn him into an enemy for me,” he said in an interview with The Sun.
“We remain friends and he talked about exchanging shirts, which is something players do all the time.”
The 29-year-old was not helped by another poor performance in the Arsenal back line, but he claims he was unaware that the shirt swap with Van Persie would cause such uproar amongst the Gunners’ fans and admitted he would not do it again.
However, he did stress that his friendship with Van Pesie has not been affected since the transfer to Manchester United, which possibly highlighted the great divide between fans and players in modern football.
“Did I think it would cause such a commotion? Of course I didn’t, otherwise I would have told Robin to exchange shirts away from public view,” he added.
“That’s why I’d like to apologise to supporters who felt aggrieved by it.
“I just want people to understand he is my friend and I wouldn’t treat him differently because of the move to United.
“He approached me at half-time and at the time I did not think it would create such an uproar.
“I would never refrain from saying ‘hi’ to a good friend. It surprised me that people latched on to a gesture that promotes friendship and fair play.
“Arsene Wenger had asked the supporters to show respect towards Robin, after all.”
Despite his apology and evident remorse for the anger he sparked in Arsenal supporters, Wenger is reportedly set to drop Santos for their Champions League trip to Schalke 04 on Tuesday.
The fallout from the Old Trafford incident could have something to do with it, but the Brazilian’s recent form for the Emirates Stadium club would also provide a reasonable excuse to take him out of the team.