Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Robin Van Persie is still “an Arsenal player” even as the Manchester United forward gets ready for Sunday's clash against his former club.

Wenger was forced into selling the Dutch striker to their rivals 16 months ago as Van Persie asked to leave the club which brought him to England for £3million in 2004.

Sir Alex Ferguson claims in his autobiography that he talked Wenger into selling his star striker but Wenger does not agree with the former Manchester United manager, as reported on

"It was more the fact that the conversations I had with Robin Van Persie convinced me," Wenger said. "It was not the talks with Sir Alex that convinced me to sell Robin Van Persie to Manchester United, just the number.

"The head-to-head talks I had with RVP many, many times convinced me I had to sell him.

"I think what was part of that is that RVP was convinced by the Dutch coach that was at Manchester United. That played a big part in that.

"In the end, I had to decide do I do it or not knowing I would get huge criticism for doing it. But I just decided because at the end of the day I felt it was the best thing to do.

"It will be strange to see him in a United shirt because for me he is an Arsenal man. I took him as a very, very young player and we came together through very difficult periods. He became a world class player and for me he is an Arsenal player."

Arsenal won the FA Cup against Manchester United in 2005 but the Gunners have not since won a trophy.

The move from Highbury to the Emirates restricted their spending power and Van Persie saw players such as Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leave in big-money moves.

Wenger believes Van Persie's head was turned by United with Arsenal's failure to compete for the big titles.

"Sometimes it is linked with age and RVP was 29 and more impatient," Wenger said.

"We had gone through years where we had to be tight financially in a way that was logical and normal without fading too much at the top level.

"Some players saw the big clubs buying world name players and of course they lost a bit their confidence we could compete with them. It is understandable but some players have always been consistent in the way they thought the club has to be run. But at some stage we can turn the corner as we have seen this season."

Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the Premier League and hold an eight-point lead over United going into the giants' clash at Old Trafford.

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