Jack Wilshere will leave Arsenal this summer after 17 years at the club, following talks with new manager Unai Emery which the midfielder says forced his hand for “footballing reasons”.
Wilshere joined the club aged nine and made his debut in 2008 aged 16 and 256 days, at the time Arsenal’s youngest ever debutant. He won the PFA’s young player of the year award in 2010-11 and broke into the England team, before earning two FA Cup winner’s medals coming on as a substitute in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 finals at Wembley.
His career has been severely hampered by a series of injuries. He spent the 2016-17 season on loan at Bournemouth in order to regain form and fitness, and returned to the Emirates last season to play 20 Premier League games for Arsenal for the first time in five years.
He was overlooked by Gareth Southgate for a place in the England squad at the World Cup, and after talks with Emery he has decided that he will not be able to play first team football at Arsenal next season.
In a long message posted on Instagram, Wilshere thanked the Arsenal supporters, as well as Arsene Wenger and all his former team-mates, and insisted he had wanted to stay at the Emirates throughout his protracted contract negotiations.
“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,” Wilshere wrote.
“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 gave no clue as to his next destination. He has been linked with a variety of clubs including West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton, as well as Italian sides Sampdoria and AC Milan.
“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 said. “I’ll now be taking the time necessary to consider my options before deciding on the next stage of my career.”
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