LONDON — Arsenal boss Unai Emery has confirmed that he couldn’t offer Jack Wilshere a regular starting role for next season, and said he respects the midfielder’s decision to leave the club.
Wilshere joined West Ham this week after turning down a new-contract offer at Arsenal, the club he spent 17 years at after joining the academy as a boy. Wilshere, 26, said last month that he made the decision after a one-to-one conversation with Emery, in which the new head coach indicated he wouldn’t be a regular starter.
Emery gave his own version of that conversation ahead of his first game in charge of the Gunners, a preseason friendly at Boreham Wood.
“The conversation with Wilshere was a very good conversation. I explained to him my opinion and how I will want to create the team. And [I couldn’t for sure] say to him he’s going to play in the 11 players,” Emery said.
“And also he explained to me the decision is not easy for him. But he wanted to choose the best option for him, and [the whole] time is with respect. I know this player here is very important for the supporters, he grew up here at Arsenal. But I don’t give him a place in the starting 11. It’s because of that he chose to leave here, and I respect also this.”
Wilshere’s career has been blighted by injures, but his 38 appearances in all competitions last season was his most since 2010-11 after he returned from a fractured foot. And Emery insisted that the midfielder’s injury record didn’t play a part in his thinking.
“It was a tactical and technical decision,” he said.
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.