Robin van Persie’s move to Manchester United in 2012 came as a massive disappointment to Thomas Vermaelen, with the former Arsenal defender admitting that he had hoped to see the Dutch striker go on to become “a legend” at Emirates Stadium”.
The proven frontman was well on course to achieve that status when the decision was taken to head for the exits in north London.
Van Persie had been acquired by the Gunners in 2004 and scored 132 goals in 278 appearances for the club.
Vermaelen was among those left frustrated at the Emirates, with the Belgian admitting that he had hoped to see Van Persie sign a new deal and secure a standing alongside the likes of Ian Wright and Thierry Henry.
“It was a surprise he left,” Vermaelen told Arsenal’s official podcast.
“I knew he was going to go eventually but to hear that he’d all of a sudden left for Manchester United was a big surprise.
“I wanted him to stay at Arsenal of course, because in his last season with us he was the PFA Player of the Year. He had a great season, the best season of his career, so I wanted him to stay and be a legend.
“Of course, he’s strong in his character so he couldn’t change his mind. I think that’s a good thing because that makes him the person and player he is. You couldn’t change his mind, he’d made it up that he was going to go.”