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The Arsenal manager did not want to see his compatriot leave the Premier League outfit, but could not bend the rules in order to make him stay...

Arsene Wenger has revealed that he wanted Robert Pires to stay at Arsenal, but the policy of only offering players over 30 one-year contracts prevented him from being able to.

The French coach explained that he never wanted to see the playmaker leave the Gunners as he prepares to face him for the first time in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.

Pires left Arsenal because he wanted a longer contract and to play regularly and that was something that Wenger could not guarantee that he could have at the north London club.

“Personally, I wanted to keep him,” Wenger told the club's official website. “He wanted to go because he wanted a longer contract than one year and you know our policy.

“Also he wanted to play. You know many players here feel the pressure every day of the young players who are ready. It’s not easy to take. You look behind you and you see what's coming behind is strong.

“It’s an everyday challenge from the young boys who are ready to give 100 per cent to show that they are better than you.

“So I believe that he decided to go. He was aware that he would not definitely be automatically first choice. I can understand that. He was at the stage of his career where he wanted to play regularly and, at 33, to come in and out, it’s difficult. Don’t forget, he's almost 36 now.

“But he is someone who I would have loved to have stayed longer. He was such an example, him and Dennis Bergkamp. They were quite similar. You give them a ball and they could have stayed out there on the training pitch the whole day.”

Lucas Brown,

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