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 stay.”
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 Wlshere.
“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 with.”