London - England
midfielder Jack Wilshere is to end almost two decades at Arsenal and
leave on a free transfer after being told by manager Unia Emery he would
not be a first choice next season.
The 26-year-old - scorer of 14 goals in his 197 appearances since
making his debut for 'The Gunners' in 2008 - said he had offered to
take a pay cut, which persuaded former manager Arsene Wenger to
recommend he be awarded a new contract.
However, Emery told the injury-prone Wilshere - who missed out on
making the World Cup squad after his form faltered towards the end of
the season - even with that he would not be prominent in his planning
for next season.
"Following a number of extensive conversations with those at the
club, and in particular a recent meeting with the 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," he said in a
post on Instagram.
"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
Wilshere, who won the last of his 34 caps in the humiliating loss to
Iceland at Euro 2016, said he would take his time deciding who he would
play for next.
Clubs such as Everton, Southampton and Crystal Palace - managed by
former England handler Roy Hodgson - are reported to have shown an
interest of late.
"I'll now be taking the time necessary to consider my options before deciding on the next stage of my career," sad Wilshere.
"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 team-mates over
the years, everyone at the academy for helping me fulfil my dream and
of course the fans, who I have always shared such a special relationship