Brazilian full-back vows to be back at the Emirates.
Arsenal defender Andre Santos believes his long-term future is still at the Emirates Stadium despite being allowed to leave on loan for the remainder of the season.
Santos, a £6million capture from Fenerbahce, returned to Brazil to join Gremio for the rest of the season following Arsenal’s capture of £8.3million man Nacho Monreal from Malaga.
Santos had failed to make the grade in the Premier League, his most famous act being swapping shirts with former team-mate Robin Van Persie at half-time of Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester United earlier in the season.
The flop was given permission to return to Brazil to gain first-team football by manager Arsene Wenger, but Santos himself expects to return to Arsenal ahead of next season to fight for his place with Monreal and Kieren Gibbs.
“The idea is to go there, play well and be able to come back strong,” Santos told the Daily Mail. “Do I have a future at the club? For sure. This is a loan deal and after this season we will see where everything stands.
“I talked with Wenger and we decided together this would be a good chance for me to get on top of my game. He gave me a hug and told me Arsenal would always welcome me back with open arms. He did [want me to stay] but he wanted to see me happy and if I am not performing all the time, then I am not happy.”
Santos never got to grips with the pace of the Premier League and there was no stand out performances. But he fails to see the significance of his shirt-swapping antics with close friend Van Persie.
“You guys have a different culture than me and it is still very hard to understand why people hold this grudge over me,” Santos added. “The relationship was very good until the incident with Van Persie. I have apologised and moved on. I have all my respect to the fans of Arsenal. Hopefully soon I will be back and giving them many happiness.”