Arsene Wenger has revealed that Robin van Persie tried to arrange an Arsenal reunion in 2015, only for the Frenchman to turn down his plea due to concerns over the age of his squad.
The Dutch striker remains an unpopular figure in north London after his controversial departure from the club in 2012, opting against signing a new contract in favour of a move elsewhere.That 'elsewhere' turned out to be Manchester United, who paid £24m to secure his services, and Van Persie would go on to lift the Premier League title the following season. Despite Wenger receiving criticism for sanctioning the move, he insisted that the deal was done with Arsenal's best interests in mind.
"In 2012, he announced his intention not to extend his contract," Wenger says in his new book Arsene Wenger: My Life in Red and White. "All the big clubs were courting him. I sold him to Manchester United.
"The supporters were angry with me for this but we could not match the offer. I managed to negotiate his departure for £24m, which was a huge amount at the time for a player with a year left on his contract. I had only the interest of the club in mind.
The Dutchman would score 58 goals in 105 appearances for United before being sold on to Fenerbahçe in 2015. However, Wenger admitted he was contacted by Van Persie over a sensational return to the Emirates, one he turned down in favour of focussing on acquiring younger players.
He added: "Van Persie had a fantastic first six months at Old Trafford: he put the team on track for the Premiership title and made it even more difficult for us. But after three years of the four that he signed for, he was injured and Ferguson [note: it was actually Louis van Gaal] sold him to the Turkish club Fenerbahce.
"He called me because he wanted to come back, but it was impossible: he was at the end of his career and we were investing in young players."