Wilshere: Arsenal exit was my call

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The England international midfielder has linked up with West Ham after bringing a 17-year association with the Gunners to a close

Jack Wilshere claims that it was his decision to leave Arsenal, with the England international having severed ties with the Gunners after 17 years.

A product of the famed academy system in north London, Wilshere has opted to make a fresh start this summer, with a drop into the free agent pool allowing him to link up with West Ham.

It had been expected that he would be committing to fresh terms at Arsenal, with injury struggles put behind him in 2017-18 to figure on a regular basis under Arsene Wenger.

A deal put to him was changed, however, once Unai Emery took the reins at Emirates Stadium, leading Wilshere to reassess his options and ultimately head for the exits.

He told The Independent: “I decided to leave.

“Which was a decision that took some time to come to.”

Wilshere attracted plenty of interest once it became apparent that he would be on the lookout for a new club, with West Ham winning that race as they kept the 26-year-old in London.

“I’ve had a bond with West Ham since growing up as a kid, going to Upton Park, looking up to the players,” added the all-action midfielder.

“Obviously I had to consider all my options – abroad and in England – but once I sat down, it was clear for me.

“They’ve got real ambitions, they’re playing in a big stadium in front of good fans, and we can really build something special.

“As a team, they went through quite a lot last year, but they’re really tight. That’s going to help us going forward.”

Wilshere believes he is ready to play a leading role for the Hammers under Manuel Pellegrini in 2018-19, with his game in a good place despite the fitness issues of his past and England’s decision to leave him out of their World Cup squad.

He added: “In the past, it’s been difficult.

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“But over the last couple of years, I’ve had a really good run.

“I went to Bournemouth and had a great time. The idea was just to prove to myself that I can still play at that level.

“Then I came back, and decided to stay at Arsenal and fight for my place, and I played 30-odd games [38 in all competitions]. So I’ve had a good couple of years.”

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