Mikel Arteta has confirmed that David Luiz will leave the club this summer and says he’ll miss the Brazilian after forming a close relationship with the veteran centre-back away in the last 18 months.
Out of contract in June, it was decided that the 34-year-old, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring problem, would not be offered a new deal.
Assessing Luiz’s contribution in the two years since he signed for the Gunners, Arteta said: “He’s a player that has won everything in football and he has every right to do so because of who he is as a player and a person.
“I had the privilege to work with him for 18 months, I really enjoyed it. I think we got on really good, we had some great moments together.
“He’s been really helpful, someone I really like and appreciate so much. I just say thank you to him and wish him luck in his next chapter. I’m sure, knowing David, that he’ll have many more to come, as a player and in the future somehow related to the game.”
He added: “When you get to know the person, his background, where he was raised in Brazil and what he’s done…to get to this point, it’s remarkable.
“You understand a lot of things happened for a reason. Sometimes it’s not just an ability, or quality or determination, it’s many other factors. I’ve learned from him. He’s been very helpful every time with the team.
“I feel sadness as well because you get attached to the players emotionally. One is the player we need to get the maximum from and then there’s the person, when it gets to these stages, it’s tough and it hurts because the relationship now is going to be going away, at least in this space where I won’t see him every day. Again, I have to say thank you to him.”
When news broke of Luiz’s impending departure, his representatives seemed keen to suggest the decision had been his; there were even suggestions the Brazilian was concerned about the culture at the club. Arteta wouldn’t be drawn on the specifics, but he did make it clear that talks had been ongoing for some time.
“We had very clear talks in the last few months,” said Arteta. “We had a big decision to make last year when we had to extend his contract in a very difficult moment with the Covid world and the pay cuts.
“We managed to extend it for one more season. He’s given his best, I tried to help him as much as I possibly could, the club as well, but after some conversations, we decided this was the best way to do it now.
He added: “It’s after a few conversations that we had, David and I. We discussed the situation on different occasions and the other day we made the final decision on it.”