Wenger put faith in Dutch star to be hit­man

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By JON WEST

ROBIN VAN PER­SIE has re­vealed he only be­came a world-class goalscorer af­ter Arse­nal flogged Em­manuel Ade­bayor.

The Dutch­man has found the back of the net an in­cred­i­ble 54 times since Jan­uary 2011.

That has made him one of the top marks­men on the planet – and Arsene Wenger’s side would be nowhere with­out him.

But Van Per­sie ad­mit­ted he had pre­vi­ously been happy just play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to an­other for­ward.

And it was only when Manch­ester City bought Ade­bayor in 2009 that he changed his out­look.

He said: “I never thought I would end up as a main striker. We only tried it when Ade­bayor went.

“The boss didn’t buy any­one else be­cause he was con­vinced I could do it, but I wasn’t even con­vinced I could do it my­self.

“I had not re­ally played there that much and I hadn’t thought about it much be­fore.

“The boss said, ‘ I think you can do it, give it a go and see where it ends. Play your nor­mal game, don’t go out there to score, go out there to en­joy your­self and help the team’.

“I had a go and then in pre-sea­son we had a game against In­ter Mi­lan and I scored a good goal and played well – and he told me af­ter the game, ‘We will see how it goes, I am 100 per cent sure it will work’.

Worry

“Then in my first five or six games I didn’t score. I was mak­ing as­sists and play­ing well, but I didn’t score and I thought, ‘I am a main striker now, I need to score’.

“But the boss said, ‘I don’t mind that, as long as you play well for the team, giv­ing as­sists, the goals will come’.

“When I scored my first goal I then scored seven in seven, with seven as­sists, so that was quite good.

“That was my first step to be­ing a main striker.”

Van Per­sie has never had to worry much about be­ing dropped.

Wenger gave games to Nicklas Bendt­ner, An­drey Ar­shavin and Car­los Vela be­fore packing them off on loan.

And South Korea skip­per Ju-young Park and Moroc­can flop Marouane Chamakh barely get a look-in.

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