Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal will miss the experience of Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta next season.
The duo, along with Mathieu Flamini, drew a line under their respective careers at the Emirates as the Gunners 4-0 win over Aston Villa, coupled with a Sp*rs 5-1 defeat at Newcastle, secured a second place finish in the league.
An emotional Arteta came off the bench to force an own goal with the last kick of the game, while Rosicky found himself the centre of attention following Olivier Giroud’s second goal as the players ran to him in celebration even though he wasn’t selected in the matchday squad.
“It shows that in football there are still positive emotions,” noted Wenger of his players’ decision to pay homage to the veteran Czech.
“Tomas Rosicky was first an exceptional football player and highly respected in our dressing room.
“It was a very sad day for me yesterday not being able to pick him to be in the squad today because there was something at stake.
“We lose him. We lose Arteta – two exceptional football players but also two leaders in the dressing room.
“I am convinced that in the bad periods they were a positive influence on the squad and we will miss them next season.
“So I would like to thank them for what they have done and wish them the best of luck.”
Arteta was left in tears at full-time but returned to the pitch minutes later sporting Rosicky’s number 7 shirt as the entire first team formed a guard of honour for the 35-year-old.
There’s no confirmation yet where the Czech will play next season although his agent revealed on Friday that former club Sparta Prague have been in contact and sides in the US and the United Arab Emirates are also interested.