Arsene Wenger accepts sanctioning the sale of captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United was a “massive gamble”, but has faith his team can recover to mount a successful Premier League campaign.
Holland international Van Persie yesterday finalised a £24million switch to Old Trafford, having earlier in the summer announced he would not be signing a new deal with the Gunners.
Van Persie is the latest of Wenger’s key men to move on following last summer’s departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri — with Alex Song the next possible transfer amid reports of a £15million bid from Barcelona.
While the manner of Van Persie’s exit may not sit well with many Arsenal fans — following his carefully worded summer statement questioning the direction of the club which stood by him during injury-plagued spells on the sidelines — Wenger maintains it is now time for everyone to look to the future as he prepares for today’s season opener against Sunderland. “The reality is when the player doesn’t want to stay you have two ways: you either force him to stay or you accept the reality and you let him go. I have chosen the second solution,” said Wenger.
“I know it is a massive challenge and a massive gamble I took but we have the quality to deal with the problem we have, and at the end of the day I can talk and talk and talk but we can only show it on the pitch now.
“Time heals all things and of course at the moment people are hurt, which I understand, but what is important for us is to focus on the season in front of us. Players have gone, life goes on and the football club is 125 years old and other big players have left this club and we have always gone from season to season in a strong way.”