André Santos has apologised to his Arsenal team mates and the club’s supporters for swapping shirts with Robin van Persie at half time in the club’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday.
He also claimed that the idea came from the Manchester United striker, who was Santos’ closest friend at Arsenal.
Santos’ has received a dressing down from Arsene Wenger for his actions and will be left out of the team for tonight’s Champions’ League clash with Schalke although that is down the defender’s poor form rather than his poor decision making.
The Brazilian told the Sun: “Did I think it would cause such a commotion? Of course I didn’t, otherwise I would have told Robin to exchange shirts away from public view. That’s why I’d like to apologise to supporters who felt aggrieved by it. I just want people to understand he is my friend and I wouldn’t treat him differently because of the move to United. He approached me at half-time and at the time I did not think it would create such an uproar.”
It was a gesture that seemed symbolic of how the balance of power between Arsenal and Manchester United was firmly weighted in the northern club’s favour and drew the ire of Gunners fans but Wenger said a cultural difference was behind Santos’ actions. However, he had made it clear to the left back that it was unacceptable.
“It was not the right thing to do at all but that is not an explanation for our bad performance. There is a difference of culture. I can understand that an English guy doesn’t understand it and I’m French and I don’t understand it, either,” Wenger told the Guardian.
The manager continued: “He is completely in a different world when he does that. He understands today what it means and he will never do it again. But it’s interesting because Santos is a player who cares, he is serious and he wants to do well. He gives an image of himself (on Saturday) which is not him.”
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