Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is delighted for Mathieu Flamini after the French midfielder scored both the goals in the Gunners' 2-1 win over arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday (23 September) night. The former AC Milan midfielder was starting his first game of the season and made it count with a man-of-the-match performance at the home of their biggest rivals.
The 31-year-old midfielder, who has lost his place in the team to Francis Coquelin, has struggled to get regular game time thus far this campaign, and was also linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium this summer. But the French manager has revealed that the midfielder expressed his desire to stay and fight for his place despite the club willing to let him leave in order to get regular football elsewhere.
"I fought to keep him but he is at an age where you always consider what it is important at that age, which is to keep focused and stay in the team. If they do not manage to do that it is better you let them go, but he wanted to stay," Wenger said, as quoted on Arsenal's official site.
"He is a fighter and he is a winner as well. I told him at the start of the season it might be difficult for him to be a starter but he decided to stay and he did fight," he added.
This is Flamini's second stint at the club after he left the Gunners to join AC Milan in 2008 on a free transfer. The 65-year-old manager has revealed that he was keen to re-sign Flamini, a player he brought to England in 2004, after AC Milan released him in 2013.
"I made him come to Arsenal, I made him come back, because I think he is a winner. He is a guy who always wants to help the team to win and that's why I'm very pleased for him," the Frenchman told the north London club's official site.