Jack Wilshere has confirmed he is leaving Arsenal when his current contract at the club expires at the end of this month. The midfielder announced his decision on Tuesday evening after claiming his “playing time would be significantly reduced” under the club’s new manager, Unai Emery.
Wilshere made 197 appearances for Arsenal, 38 of which came last season – his best total since 2013-14 – and said it was always his intention throughout the recent contractual discussions to remain an Arsenal player.
“Such was my desire to stay that I had in fact recently agreed to sign a financially reduced contract in order to commit my future to the club, said Wilshere in a statement on social media. “However, following my meeting with the new manager I was made aware that, although the reduced contract offer remained, it was made clear to me that my playing time would be significantly reduced should I decide to stay.
“I am sure everyone can understand that at this point in my life and career I need to be playing regular first team football and following my meeting with Mr Emery I came away feeling that it would be very difficult for me to do so at Arsenal. Given this, I feel I have no option but to pursue other opportunities in order to progress my career on the pitch.”
Wilshere was left out of England’s World Cup squad by Gareth Southgate in May and failed to make the stand-by list. Everton, West Ham and Juventus have been linked in the past with signing the central midfielder but Wilshere declined to say where he sees his future next season.
“I’m feeling fit, sharp and strong and will be working tirelessly to ensure I am in peak condition ahead of the new season,” he continued. “I’ll now be taking the time necessary to consider my options before deciding on the next stage of my career. I would like to place on record my respect for Mr Emery and my appreciation for his honesty and candor [sic], and I wish him, the team and the club all the very best for the future.”
Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest-ever player when he made his debut aged 16 and 256 days in a Premier League win over Blackburn Rovers in 2008 and spent 17 of his 26 years at the London club. He was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2010-11 and also earned a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year that season.
Wilshere singled out Arsène Wenger for special praise and thanked “everyone at the academy for helping me to fulfil my dream and of course the fans, who I have always shared such a special relationship with.”
Arsenal also released a statement: “Everyone at Arsenal would like to wish Jack Wilshere a successful future following his decision to seek new opportunities. Since joining our Academy more than 17 years ago aged just nine Jack has been a tremendous player for the club and a much-loved member of the Arsenal family. Thank you Jack for your contribution and the fantastic memories. Good luck in the future.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010