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The Arsenal manager believes the north London club could not force their former skipper to stay the club because of the risk of losing him on a free transfer

Arsene Wenger has revealed that selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United was one of the hardest decisions he has been forced to make, but feels Arsenal could have been "twice a loser" by trying to keep him.

The former Arsenal captain made it clear that he would not extend his contract at the Emirates Stadium with only one year remaining on his contract, before forcing a move to Manchester United whom he has helped to win the Premier League title.

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Wenger told reporters: “It is difficult for all the players when a player does not want to be here, to force him to be here and know that at the end of the season the club does not get anything with knowing that he might not contribute as well. So you are twice a loser.

“Yes, of course it was one of the hardest decisions,” Wenger added. “But at some stage you have to be realistic. I can explain to you what is around that story one day. I am sure that you will be much more comprehensive about it.

“We have lost some other big players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, they had won with the club and they were around 30 or 31. He could help us to win because we haven’t won for a few years. That he left before that, was frustrating for us.”

On Sunday the Dutchman will make his first return to the Emirates since leaving the north London club, as Manchester United travel to Arsenal for the game that kicks off at 16:00BST.

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