Arsene Wenger says that Kieran Gibbs departure this summer was like losing a family member, and seeing the left-back leave was more painful than the sale of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool.
The 27 year old will return to the Emirates for the first time as an opposition player on Monday night when the Gunners face West Brom, and the Arsenal manager spoke about the reasons for his move.
“He did not ask to leave, it was a mutual decision,” he said. “He wanted to play – he’s 27, or 28. You want to play at that age.
“It was a difficult decision but on the other hand when a guy has given you so many years you have to accept that if he is not sure to play.
“It is a fact that we have got Kolasinac, you cannot keep three left-backs.”
Having been at the club since he was a teenager, Gibbs was a player close to Wenger’s heart.
“Ideally you want stability and you want players who carry the values for the generations,” he said.
“Overall it’s true that with Gibbs (it hurt) more than Chamberlain because he had been educated at Arsenal from the age of 10.
“When he arrived he was a left-winger. I transformed him into a full-back because he was not necessarily rated as a guy who would make it as a left winger but I saw something in him that was very intelligent, with pace, that made me feel he could make it as a left-back.”
We hope he does well at West Brom, but not tomorrow night. Or he can do well tomorrow once the rest of his West Brom teammates do terribly. We’re kind like that.