The 33-year-old used Instagram to leave a message for Gunners fans ahead of Sunday’s North London Derby with Tottenham, recalling how former team-mate Santi Cazorla had asked him to join back in January 2013.
In all, the Spaniard made more than 250 competitive appearances for Arsenal – including all three of their games this season, wearing the captain’s armband in the win over Burnley – and lifted three FA Cups during his time at the club.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision, but thinking of my family and my future it feels that it is the right decision,” Monreal wrote.
“I’ll always remember you. Now it’s time to win the North London Derby.”
31st January, 2013. Malaga. I wake up, check my phone and have 2 calls from Santi Cazorla. I call him and he asks me if I want to play for Arsenal. 10 hours later I was an Arsenal player. Sometimes Football is simple. Different country, city, language, football style, team mates, where it's not the best conditions for a shy person as me, but I knew I have to be there!! Almost 7 years later it's time to say goodbye, it hasnt been an easy decision, but thinking of my family and my future it feels that it is the right decision.. I would like to say thank you to all my team mates, staff, and all the people who work for Arsenal and especially to the fans for all the respect and love they have always shown me. I’ll always remember you. THANKS. P.S Now it's time to win the North London Derby 😉 🙌🙌 #COYG
Apart from a somewhat peculiar goalscoring streak in the 2017-18 season, Monreal was rarely a headline-grabbing player but his consistency throughout his tenure at left-back was welcome in a time of upheaval at the club.
Now, with Sead Kolasinac likely to challenge the returning Kieran Tierney for a starting role, it seems he feels he is better served searching for first-team football back in his native Spain.
He made over 150 appearances in La Liga for Osasuna and Malaga before his move to the Premier League, and will be hoping to help Imanol Alguacil’s side build on their ninth-place finish last season.
Plenty of Arsenal fans will be sad to see Monreal leave, but there is little room for sentiment as Unai Emery continues to refresh the squad he inherited from Arsene Wenger last summer.
With Tierney and Hector Bellerin set to take up their stations on the flanks as they return to training this month, Emery may soon have a better idea of just how well that rebuild is going.
He followed the likes of Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck out of the club this summer, with Mohamed Elneny set to spend the season on loan at Besiktas.