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Arsene Wenger admits it was anything but an easy decision to allow Kieran Gibbs to leave Arsenal as the left-back prepares to return to the Emirates Stadium with West Brom on Monday.
Albion swooped for Gibbs, paying the Gunners just £5m, the day before deadline day and he made his first start – a positive display at that – in the dull draw with West Ham last weekend.
His chances in North London were likely to be very limited indeed with the summer arrival of Sead Kolasinac and the existing competition of Nacho Monreal.
Despite this, Wenger found it tough to part with Gibbs – tougher than the allowance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to leave for Liverpool – though he accepted the defender’s need for regular minutes.
“He did not ask to leave, it was a mutual decision. He wanted to play – he’s 27, or 28. You want to play at that age,” Wenger told the Daily Mail.
“It was a difficult decision but on the other hand when a guy has given you so many years you have to accept that if he is not sure to play.
“It is a fact that we have got Kolasinac, you cannot keep three left-backs [plus Nacho Monreal].
“Overall it’s true that with Gibbs [it hurt] more than Chamberlain because he had been educated at Arsenal from the age of 10.
“When he arrived he was a left-winger. I transformed him into a full-back because he was not necessarily rated as a guy who would make it as a left winger but I saw something in him that was very intelligent, with pace, that made me feel he could make it as a left-back.”