LONDON – Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere said on Tuesday that he was leaving the Premier league club, which earlier announced that Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno was joining.
Wilshere, who was left out of the England World Cup squad, said on his Instagram account that he will leave the north London club when his 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 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,” Wilshere, 26, said.
“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.”
Wilshere made his senior debut for the club in 2008, and went on to amass almost 200 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal. During that time, he had loan spells at Bolton Wanderers and Bournemouth.
“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,” he added.
“Given this, I feel I have no option but to pursue other opportunities in order to progress my career on the pitch.”
Leno, a 26-year old German international, will be manager Unai Emery’s second acquisition, subject to regulatory formalities, after Switzerland defender Stephan Lichtsteiner joined on a free transfer from Juventus this month.
“We are very pleased that Bernd Leno will be joining us,” Emery said on the club website. “Bernd is a goalkeeper of high quality and experience. He has been a top performer and regular number one goalkeeper with Leverkusen in the Bundesliga for the past seven years.”
Leno, who was named in Joachim Loew’s provisional World Cup squad but failed to make the final cut for Russia, kept 10 clean sheets in the Bundesliga last season and is seen as a long-term replacement for Petr Cech, who turned 36 last month.
The north London club will look to improve on their sixth-placed finish in long-time manager Arsene Wenger’s last season at the helm, and start the new campaign with a tricky home match against champions Manchester City in August.