Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims his ideal destination for Robin van Persie would have been Juventus and insists it was the desire of the player that resulted in a controversial transfer to Manchester United.
Van Persie joined the Red Devils in the summer transfer window of 2012 after making it clear he would not renew his contract at the Emirates Stadium, and led his new club to the Premier League title in his first season.
Wenger attracted much criticism for selling his captain and consecutive golden boot winner to a team with which they had endured such an intense rivalry, even if Arsenal were able to recoup £24 million for a player aged almost 30.
Manchester United were not the only club willing to play a premium for the Netherlands international, with Juventus and Manchester City also in contention for his signature, and Wenger admits he had hoped Van Persie would move to Turin.
The Gunners boss says Van Persie himself chose a switch to Old Trafford, and he believes the sale of the striker is not comparable to the deal which has seen Juan Mata leave Chelsea for United.
"In our defence, we were in a more explicable situation [than Mata] because Van Persie had only one year to go," Wenger told the press on Thursday.
"He was 29 and had played here for a long time. It was not a club that I wanted to sell Van Persie to. I wanted to sell him to Juventus. But he had decided to go to Man United and, at the end of the day, you need the agreement of the three parties."