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'I feel sadness' - Arteta hurt by Luiz's imminent Arsenal exit

12:17 BST 18/05/2021
David Luiz Mikel Arteta
The Gunners defender will leave the club at the end of the season when his contract expires

Mikel Arteta has opened up about David Luiz’s imminent departure from Arsenal, admitting he feels ‘sadness’ at the centre-back’s impending exit.

Luiz will leave the Gunners on a free transfer once his contract expires at the end of the season, two years after he arrived from Chelsea.

The decision was made after talks held last week and, whilst saying that it was a decision that suited all parties, Arteta is going to miss not having the 34-year-old around anymore.

What’s been said?

Paying tribute to Luiz, Arteta said: “He’s a player who has won everything in football and has earned every right to do so through who he is as a player and as a person.

“I had the privilege to work with him for 18 months. I really enjoyed it. I think we got on really good. I think we had some great moments together. He’s been really helpful, someone who we really like and appreciate so much.

“So I say thank you to him and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter because I’m sure knowing David that he will have many more to come as a player and in the future somehow related to the game.”

How was the decision made?

Arteta says Luiz’s exit was something that was agreed between both sides during talks about the defender’s future that have been ongoing for months.

“We have had very clear talks in the last few months,” said the Arsenal boss.

“We already had a big decision to make last year when we had to extend his contract in a very difficult moment during the Covid world and with the pay cuts and everything and we managed to extend that for one more season.

“He’s given his best. I tried to help him as much as I possibly could. The club as well. And after some conversations we decided that it was the best way to do it now.

“It’s after a few conversations that we had, David and I. We discussed this situation in different occasions and the other day we made the final decision on that.”

A painful exit

Arteta admits that he feels a sense of sadness at Luiz’s exit and that the relationship he has built up with the defender during his time at the club will now have to change.

“I’ve really enjoyed and learnt from him,” said the Spaniard. “He’s been very helpful every time with the team and I feel sadness as well because you get attached to the players emotionally.

“When it gets to this stage it’s tough and it hurts because that relationship now is going to be going away, at least in this space and not seeing him every day.

“Again, I have to say thank you to him.”

Will Saliba be Luiz's replacement?

Ever since it emerged that Luiz would be leaving Arsenal, there has been lots talk about who will take his place in the squad next season.

Will a new signing come in during the summer or will Willian Saliba return from his loan spell with Nice in France and be given the chance to become a first-team regular?

When asked whether the 20-year-old centre-back, who has yet to make a competitive appearance for Arsenal since his £27 million ($38m) move from Saint-Etienne in 2019, would replace Luiz, Arteta said: “You will see in the summer the possible replacements.

“William is our player for sure and that is a decision we are going to be taking in the summer.

“When we finish the season we will sit down and discuss the roles of every member of the squad and how they can fulfil that role.

“He is our player so he will be back here for sure and after that we will make the decision based on the agreement of the role he is going to play in the squad.”

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