Arsène Wenger let Vito Mannone leave Arsenal because he deserved first-team football.

The Italian moved to Sunderland last summer and has been a stand-out player for the Black Cats this season.

Mannone joined the Gunners as a teenager and produced some promising displays for the first team but always struggled to get in front of Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski during his spell at the Club.

At the end of the day I let Mannone go because he deserved to play somewhere

Arsène Wenger

"I kept him here when he made a trial with me at the age of 16, and I decided to keep him here," Wenger said. "That he makes a career now, I am extremely happy for him.

"I had a big problem here, it's a nice problem to have, because I had three young goalkeepers, and all the three were top quality, with Szczesny, Fabianski and Mannone.

"At the end of the day I let Mannone go because he deserved to play somewhere."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Isaac Moore 21 Feb 2014