LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday admitted that his decision to allow Robin van Persie to join Manchester United was a "massive gamble" that could damage his side's hopes of a successful season.
Van Persie joined United in a £24 million ($37 million, 30.6 million euro) switch after Wenger decided it was not worth battling to keep the Dutch striker at the Emirates Stadium against his will.
Wenger said he could have made him see out the final year of his contract and was aware the loss of an inspirational figure who scored 37 goals in all competitions last season was a major blow, as the club seeks to end a seven-year trophy drought.
But the Frenchman felt it was a gamble worth taking because he wants to have a fully committed team going into the new Premier League campaign, which starts with a home game against Sunderland today.
"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," Wenger told a news conference.
"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."
Van Persie admitted that it was a hard decision to leave North London after eight successful years but that United's was the proverbial offer he could not refuse.