Jack Wilshere has announced that he will leave Arsenal when his contract expires next month.
The midfielder, who has been at the North London outfit for 17 years, confirmed the news in an emotional statement via Instagram.
The 26-year-old admitted that he was left with “little choice” but to seek pastures new following “extensive” talks with new manager Unai Emery.
In the statement, Wilshere admitted that he had agreed to a pay cut in order to stay at the Emirates, but after learning that he would have limited game time under Emery, he decided to walk away.
“I can confirm that I will be leaving Arsenal when my contract expires at the end of June,” Wilshere wrote. “Following a number of extensive conversations with those at the club, and in particular a recent meeting with new manager Unai Emery, I felt that I was ultimately left with little choice but to make the decision that I have due to purely footballing reasons.
“As has widely been reported, I, along with my representative have been in talks with the club for a number of months with a view to signing a new contract to extend my stay at the Emirates.”
Wilshere confirmed he had been willing to take a pay cut to stay with the club he joined as a nine-year-old, but ultimately had to choose consistent minutes over his loyalty to Arsenal.
“My intention throughout these discussions has always been to remain and Arsenal player. I have been on the books at Arsenal for 17 years and have always felt part of the fabric of the club. 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.
“However following my meeting with the new manager I was made aware that although the reduced contract offer remaining, 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 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.”
The decision ends a decade-long stint in the Arsenal first team for Wilshere that was repeatedly interrupted by long-term injuries. He made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2008, becoming the club’s youngest ever player in the Premier League and Europe.
Still, he leaves the club just shy of 200 career appearances with two seasons almost completely lost to injuries and having spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan at Bournemouth.
He seemed to shake off his injury problems in this past campaign, though, making a total of 38 appearances in all competitions — his most since 2010-11, but that still wasn’t enough to make England’s World Cup squad.
His departure comes after Granit Xhaka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles — two other central midfielders — both signed contract extensions, and with the club trying to convince Aaron Ramsey to commit his long-term future as well.
Arsenal thanked Wilshere “for your contribution and the fantastic memories” in a statement on the club website, adding: “Everyone at Arsenal would like to wish Jack Wilshere a successful future following his decision to seek new opportunities.
A number of Premier League clubs have been linked with Wilshere in recent weeks, including Crystal Palace, West Ham and Wolves. Juventus have reportedly also been interested in signing the midfielder.