By Chris Harris
Timing played a major part in William Gallas' departure from Arsenal, according to Arsène Wenger.
The French international caused a minor shock on Friday when it emerged he was on the brink of a free transfer to Tottenham a matter of weeks after his contract expired at Emirates Stadium.
Wenger tried to keep Gallas but the 33-year-old turned down a new deal and was linked with a move to Italy, France and Greece before eventually ending up just down the road at White Hart Lane.
Gallas' final destination has raised a few eyebrows but Wenger wished his compatriot well when the issue cropped up at his pre-match press conference.
"It was more down to timing why William left," explained the manager.
"We had not found an agreement towards the end of the season and then I turned somewhere else. I focused completely on signing Koscielny and it took me a long, long time to do that.
"You have to turn somewhere else and now we trust now Koscielny, Djourou, Vermaelen and Song.
"I tried to keep him here but no [I am not disappointed]. I respect that in our game we are in a professional world where he had an offer which was not good enough at the start, then I turned somewhere else. You have to accept that.
"William is a professional, he is 33 this year and so I can understand he looks for the best possible deal. I believe deeply that he had nothing against the Club. There was a difference at the start, which explains that."
Gallas would be the first established star to cross the North London divide since Sol Campbell swapped White Hart Lane for Highbury in 2001. Both men captained one club before joining its local rivals but Wenger does not think Gallas could be making a risky decision.
"It is a surprise [he is going to Tottenham] but you know I can completely understand that," he said.
"There is no risk, no physical risk at all. There is just a little bit of a risk that he is a bit more exposed in the derby but we have seen that before.
"At the moment he looks for a club, he is free, he has chosen the best possible option for himself. We are thankful for what he has done for us and we wish him good luck in his new club."