A former Arsenal star who left this summer cited three reasons behind his exit after claiming the Gunners didn’t want to see him go.
Arsenal oversaw a period of great upheaval to their playing squad this summer. Six first-teamers all under the age of 24 arrived. Clearly, that concerted strategy to rely on youth is with one eye on the future as much as the present.
On the other end of the spectrum, several veteran stars waved their goodbyes amid a mini clear-out.
One player fitting that description was Brazilian winger Willian. The 33-year-old struggled mightily in his lone season at the Emirates.
His high salary ensured interest from potential suitors was only fleeting. Indeed, it seemed the Gunners would be stuck with the ex-Chelsea flyer for the final two years of his contract.
However, in something of a surprise move, Arsenal and Willian agreed to terminate his contract in August. That meant the forward walked away from a reported £20m in the process.
Willian returned to Brazil with Corinthians and gave a brief indication of the reasons behind his decision soon after.
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However, when speaking to Arena SBT recently (via 90min), he has put more meat on the bones. In doing so, he hinted the pursuit of “joy, happiness and peace” were factors behind his decision to leave Arsenal.
“My year at Arsenal was a bit complicated,” said Willian. “I really couldn’t adapt to the club. I wasn’t happy there.
“To make it very clear too, it wasn’t the club that wanted me to leave. I wanted to leave the club. I expressed my feeling, said I wasn’t happy.
“I said I wanted to look elsewhere, another place to play. And so there was this decision to leave.
“There are things in life that money can’t buy, money doesn’t pay for. You have joy, happiness, peace, a solid family. I think this is the most important thing for me.”
Arteta concurs with Arsenal crisis theory
Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta says he knows that pressure comes with the territory at Arsenal and believes it is correct that every setback is viewed as a crisis at The Emirates.
“I think that feeling is very necessary at a big club because every defeat is a crisis and it should be a crisis. You have to deal with that pressure,” Arteta said.
“If you want to be the best you have to cope with that and realise that excellence is the only way and the only thing that is expected. Anything else isn’t good enough.
“It is the history we have. We have a great history because we have that competitive edge.
“We have that mentality as well and that willingness to look further and have that ambition. To achieve that you need to be able to deal with that.”