Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has expressed his gratitude towards new manager Unai Emery, despite the midfielder choosing to leave the Emirates Stadium.
The 26-year-old returned to fitness last season after a catalogue of injury problems, establishing himself in the Gunners midfield once more. Despite that, Wilshere underwent months of speculation regarding his future, with his contract finishing at the end of the season.
Concerns over his prospects of playing regularly next season, coupled with financial disagreements, overshadowed talks over a new deal and Wilshere eventually departed the club to join West Ham.
Wilshere is adamant though that he holds no ill feeling towards the club, and praised how former Paris Saint-Germain manager Emery had handled the situation since taking over from Arsene Wenger.
“I have nothing but respect for [Emery]. He was honest with me and I am sure it would have been a very difficult conversation to have with me as he had only been in the job for a week.
"We had a meeting and he told me that I was not going to play as much as I wanted. So that was difficult for him and I thank him for that. He could have said: ‘Yes you are going to play’.
"I’d have signed a contract and stayed and in a year’s time they’d have had to sell me. So he was really honest with me and I thank him for that."
“It was a decision based purely on football. The contract was still there. After my conversation with the new manager, he made it clear I could still stay.
Wilshere continued by admitting that he felt it was the right time to leave, before revealing his hope that the Gunners continue making progress towards challenging for Premier League honours once more.
“But I felt it was the right time. I knew they were going to bring players in. A new manager, I do not really know him. It was different if Arsene was there.
“I do care. I still have respect for Arsenal and love for the club. I hope they do well and start challenging again where they belong. They didn’t need too many signings as going forward they were always dangerous last season."