By Richard Clarke  

Arsène Wenger has no regrets about letting Lassana Diarra leave Arsenal at the start of 2008.

The French international departed for Portsmouth on January 17 having started just eight games for the Emirates Stadium side following his arrival from Chelsea on deadline day the previous August.

It now seems an odd turn of events given that since the summer Wenger has been looking for a defensive central midfielder in the mould of Diarra and, this week, the 23-year-old has moved to Real Madrid for a whopping £20 million. But the manager feels the player simply wanted the move.

“I have no regrets, not at all,” said Wenger. “We had a midfield with Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini and Rosicky. He was behind them and didn't accept it. What can you do?

“He was told when he arrived you have to be patient. I told him that in front of his agent on the final day [of the transfer window].

“In addition we had Gilberto, captain of the Brazilian team, and we had Denilson and Song too so there was a congestion there.

“We felt that Gilberto and Flamini could leave but, at the last minute, both stayed. So I said that, if you come, you will have to be patient.

“Remember that was August 31 [2007], we were top of the League and the team was functioning well.”

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24 Dec 2008