Former club captain Laurent Koscielny lifts lid on reasons behind Arsenal exit
The Frenchman ended his nine-year association with the north London outfit in acrimonious circumstances ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
Koscielny refused to travel to the United States for Arsenal’s pre-season tour in order to force through a return to France.
The central defender eventually agreed a move to Bordeaux in August, but many Gunners fans were disappointed by the manner of his departure.
However, the 34-year-old Koscielny insists he had to leave the Emirates Stadium in order to prolong his career as a player, while he also defended his attitude throughout his lengthy spell at Arsenal.
“A Premier League season is very long,” he told L’Equipe. “It requires a lot physically and mentally. I didn't feel I could play 40-50 matches and I did not want to end my career with injuries. I have gone down a level, but to take more pleasure.
“Either I finished [my career] there or changed clubs. With my family, we felt it was time. Everything was in my thinking: football, my physical state, my wife, my children, the daily life we could have.
“I can only say that I left with my head held high. All of those I worked with for nine years... everyone respected my decision to return home with my family.”
Koscielny also responded to comments made by former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who said the former France international should be “ashamed” of his actions.
“I have always been upstanding, respectful and loyal,” he added. “I always gave my maximum. I spoke with the coach, who was understanding. And as for the rest...”
Arsenal return to action in the Premier League when Bournemouth visit the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.