By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger let Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry leave Arsenal because he did not allow his heart to rule his head.

The French stars left for pastures new in 2005 and 2007, and although they enjoyed success elsewhere, Wenger believes he made the right decision.

Speaking at a supporters’ Q&A at Emirates Stadium last week, the Arsenal manager explained the factors behind those difficult decisions.

“In general, what is very important to understand is that we survived at the top in selling our good players,” said Wenger.

“What happened is that we sold them around the age of 29 and 30. Why? Because we needed the money and for them to not go for free.

“I adopted a way of thinking that it was better to sell a player one year too early than one year too late. If you sell too late you don't get any money and you cannot buy anymore. If you sell a player early he can still sign a longer contract somewhere else.

“In the cases of players like Patrick and Thierry, they were players who had given us nine years - their best years. Patrick could have made twice as much somewhere else with a four-year contract, but I did not want to give that to him.

“What happens in football is that a player goes over his peak and you still have to pay him the maximum money. There's always a difference between the moment when a player is well paid and his performance - there is a delay.

“When you get to a player who is 29, 30 years old and you want to renew his contract, you pay mega money knowing that he will give you two years at his best when he is a striker.

“You have to be calculated and ask if you can pay this money, then ask if you can keep five or six players who are into their 30s and cannot give you their maximum.

“Of course in these situations you can only achieve things as men, with heart and respect. But in these situations your intelligence has to rule your heart. That is vital.”

Watch the full Q&A in four parts on Arsenal Player.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
14 Dec 2011