KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has leapt to the defence of Robin Van Persie after seeing the striker widely criticised for his displays at Euro 2012.
Van Persie headed into this summer's European Championship on the back of a sparkling domestic campaign which saw him claim the Premier League's golden boot.
He was expected to spearhead Holland's charge for continental glory, but was one of many underachievers as the Dutch crashed out at the group stage without picking up a point.
Van Persie has been accused of arrogance and poor finishing by those in his homeland, with it felt that he is yet to scale the same heights at international level as he does for his club.
Wenger feels the criticism aimed in his forward's direction has been overly harsh, with it his opinion that Van Persie remains the best striker in Holland, if not the world.
He said: "Robin Van Persie deserves more credit in Holland than he gets. I think he was still the best striker at the European Championships.
"I watched all his games. If you look at the runs he made, his passing, everything really, was very good.
"He did not take some of his chances but that was down to tiredness. Robin is a class above other strikers. A class above (Klaas-Jan) Huntelaar."
He added: "Robin is not just a great striker or a great player, he is an exceptional player.
"He did not have to prove himself here. I can understand he wanted to prove he can score goals for Holland. That is an obvious ambition because he is so intense, he loves the game so much."
Wenger believes the pressure top players now find themselves under also played a part in Van Persie's struggles at Euro 2012.
He said: "This is caused by the society we are living in. The speed of mass media, social media and internet creates a situation where incidents or things are spread within five minutes to millions. And it leads to opinions from millions of people.
"Players and coaches are under so much more pressure. The emotion has taken over analysis.
"Players are fighting for their place in the team under this pressure and they care more about themselves than about the team.
"Twenty years ago there was a 'we' culture, now there is the 'me' culture."