Wilshere to leave Arsenal, German keeper Leno joins

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere said on Tuesday that he was leaving the Premier League club after 17 years, while the north London side earlier announced that Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno was moving to north London.

Wilshere, who was left out of the England World Cup squad, said on his Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/p/BkOCXr9B43r/?hl=en that he would leave Arsenal when his contract expired at the end of June after discussions with manager Unai Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger last month.

“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, going on to make 197 appearances and winning the FA Cup twice — in 2014 and 2015. However, a mixture of injuries and loss of form saw him struggling to secure a regular first-team spot and he spent the 2016-17 season on loan at 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.”

Top Performer

Leno, a 26-year old German international, will be new coach 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 https://www.arsenal.com. “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.

He got his first senior international call-up in 2015 and has won six caps for his country. Last year Leno was part of the Germany squad that won the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Having spent most of his youth at VfB Stuttgart, Leno signed for Leverkusen in 2011 and made more than 230 league appearances in seven seasons with the Bundesliga side.

Arsenal will look to improve on their sixth-placed finish in Arsene Wenger’s last season at the helm and start the new campaign at home to champions Manchester City in August.