Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has moved to confirm that he is almost certain to end his playing career this summer as his contract at the Emirates is due to expire.
The Spaniard made his final appearance for the Gunners as he came on as a second half substitute in the 4-0 triumph over Aston Villa that saw the Emirates outfit secure a second-place finish in the Premier League.
Arteta admits he was delighted to have been given a chance to say goodbye to the fans at the Emirates in what was most likely his last ever appearance as a professional football player.
“It was unbelievable because the last few months have been really difficult and I have been through a difficult position as well with my role in the team,” Arteta said.
“To have the opportunity to say goodbye and 99 per cent to say goodbye to the sport that I love is very hard, but my taste of it can’t get better than today. A big thank you to everybody.”
The Spaniard then went on to explain why he decided to leave Arsenal in the first place.
“It is very hard to stop but I wanted to leave it… I wanted to decide and I thought for the last few months I wasn’t good enough to represent this club on the pitch.
“You have to accept it. It’s been a long time to be playing football and I didn’t want to cheat them or anyone. It is time.
“You have to be honest with yourself. That’s what I haven’t been upset with the manager, I have been upset with myself.
“When you can’t get it right and you have been through injuries and difficult moments at this level… for me to play at this club you have to be the best in your position.
“When you lose that, I think you should be away from this place. I have probably been here too long. In the last few months, I probably didn’t deserve to be here but at least I got the chance today to stay in touch with them and it has been amazing.
“For me, the standards you need to play for this club, it cannot be eight out of 10, it has to be 10 out of 10. When you cannot deliver that, it is not good enough.”
Arteta then went on to reveal that he has three “very different” offers on the table, and everything suggests he will accept a coaching role at another Premier League club, probably Manchester City.
“It is very unusual to have opportunities at this level. As well, that made me think it was probably time (to retire) and the way I have been watching football in the last few months – or probably over a year – it was not as a player, it was more as a coach. Then you have to think about it.
“I have been left the door very open (at Arsenal) and I may have to make a decision. I don’t want to say clubs but I have three very different options and I am very proud because it is not common.”