Jack Wilshere says he has nothing but respect for Unai Emery despite a candid discussion with the Spaniard leading to his Arsenal exit.
The 26-year-old midfielder had been offered a contract extension by the Gunners, albeit on highly incentivised terms, but decided to start a new chapter of his career at West Ham United when it became clear that playing time at the Emirates was far from guaranteed; something that Emery himself touched on last week.
Speaking to the Mirror, Wilshere also explained that Arsene Wenger’s departure played a part in his decision to call time on his 17-year association with the club.
“I have nothing but respect for [Emery],” said Wilshere. “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.
“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.
“The year before when Arsene said to me that I could leave, I knew Arsene and I knew he had trust in me and I knew he would play me if I performed well in training. And he did. This year was different, it was the right time.”
Wilshere also underlined that his ties with Arsenal will remain strong and has backed the club to go from strength to strength courtesy of this summer’s additions.
“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.
“They have great players going forward, they can always create opportunities. It was not the defence. But defensively as a team we weren’t great. We had to tighten up as team.
“They have brought in a centre half and a midfielder which are good additions. Everyone needs a strong squad and if you look at City and United they have a great squad. So if you want to be challenging you need those players.”