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Van der Vaart: Van Persie recommended me to Arsenal

Van der Vaart was reportedly close to leaving the Bernabeu last summer following the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Xabi Alonso, but the Dutch international stayed with the Spanish outfit and eventually fought his way back into first team contention.

And the 27-year-old has told how compatriot Van Persie tried to persuade Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to sign the star for the Gunners.

"Robin van Persie is a good friend of mine, both on and off the pitch. We keep in touch all the time. However, we had an argument during our time with Holland under-21. We were both fighting for the playmaker role," Van der Vaart told NUsport.

"He's really eager to play in the same team as me now though and even asked Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to sign me. I'm kind of proud that a big player such as Robin did something like that.”

Van der Vaart is a product of the famous Ajax youth academy, making his name with the Dutch giants before moving onto Hamburg in 2005.

His form there earned him a move to Real in 2008, where the midfielder has had to overcome a significant battle to win over coach Manuel Pellegrini. 

Despite being told he had no future at the Bernabeu and having his squad number stripped, the departures of fellow countrymen Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar allowed Van der Vaart to fight for his place.

"I seriously considered leaving Real Madrid for Arsenal. They're a great club with some exciting players. Nevertheless, my situation at Madrid then changed and I stayed at Real instead,” he confessed.

"It'd still be fun to play together with Robin van Persie at club level, but that will only happen if he comes to Madrid," the Dutchman joked. 

By Joe Brewin

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Nick Moore is a freelance journalist based on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. He wrote his first FourFourTwo feature in 2001 about Gerard Houllier's cup-treble-winning Liverpool side, and has continued to ink his witty words for the mag ever since. Nick has produced FFT's 'Ask A Silly Question' interview for 16 years, once getting Peter Crouch to confess that he dreams about being a dwarf.