Jack Wilshere has announced that he is leave to Arsenal after 17 years despite having agreed to sign a new contract on reduced terms.
The 26-year-old’s future at Emirates Stadium had been the subject of much conjecture throughout the 2017-18 campaign.
Arsene Wenger regularly expressed a belief that a product of the club’s academy system would commit to fresh terms, with plenty of talks held in north London.
Those discussions eventually led to Wilshere reaching a compromise which suited all parties, with the England international prepared to take a pay cut in order to stay on.
Injury issues had influenced that offer, with Arsenal eager to see a home-grown talent prove his form and fitness if remaining on their books.
There has, however, been a U-turn following a meeting between Wilshere and new Gunners boss Unai Emery.
A man with 197 Arsenal appearances to his name wrote in a message in Instagram: “I can confirm that I will be leaving Arsenal when my contract expires at the end of June.
“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 Emirartes.
“My intention throughout these discussions has always been to remain an 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 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 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.
“I have experienced some incredible times at Arsenal and have met friends that will last a lifetime. I leave with memories that will stay with me forever from my time at the club. From making my debut at such a young age, to playing in the Champions League and of course winning two FA Cups in consecutive seasons, there are just too many highlights to mention.
“There will be the opportunity to talk properly when the time is right but for now I would just like to thank everyone at the club for everything over the past 17 years, in particular Arsene Wenger and his staff, all of my teammates over the years, 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.
“I will never be able to truly repay the love, faith and belief that the fans have always shown in me. It’s meant so much to me and my family over the years and I hope you are able to celebrate the success you deserve in the coming years. Thank you.
“I would like to place on record my respect for Mr Emery and my appreciation for his honesty, and I wish him, the team and the club all the very best for the future.
“I’m feeling fit, sharp and strong and will be working tirelessly to ensure I am in peak condition ahead of the new season.
“I’ll now be taking the time necessary to consider my options before deciding on the next stage of my career.”
Goal revealed earlier on Tuesday that Crystal Palace and Southampton are among those eager to bring Wilshere onto their books, while West Ham and AC Milan have been mooted as alternative landing spots.