Arsenal’s skipper and star striker Van Persie was last night putting the finishing touches to his £22million move to Old Trafford.
Wenger said: “It’s another pill to swallow. We’ve swallowed other ones and always survived.
“But Robin scored 30 goals for us in the Premier League last season, practically one every match.
“He’s an exceptional player in the pure sense of the term.
“I haven’t seen many in my life who have that quality in the first touch, are so technically gifted and have that intelligence of movement in the final 20 metres.
“Unfortunately, there’s an economic reality and the desire of the player. There’s no other way but to let him go.
“To lose a player of Robin’s ilk is tough but there is a gap to fill. It now comes down to whoever wants to seize their chance.”