Stephan Lichtsteiner has confirmed that he’s leaving Arsenal in a heartfelt letter to supporters, players and staff.
The 35-year-old defender signed a one-year deal with Arsenal last summer after joining on a free transfer from Juventus and made 23 appearances in all competitions under Unai Emery.
Hector Bellerin’s season-ending injury in January appeared to open up an opportunity for Lichtsteiner, but Shkodran Mustafi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were favoured at right-back.
Lichtsteiner, who was an unused substitute in the Europa League final, has sent his best wishes to team-mates after their crushing 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in Baku.
‘Dear Gunners, we were close to add an important chapter to this amazing club’s history. But to be close … is unfortunately not good enough. This is hard to accept,’ he said on Instagram.
‘I’m very disappointed. It was our objective to bring Arsenal back on the highest international level and to win trophies. Both belong to this great club.
‘I wish my teammates, my coach and his staff, all hard-working employees and all Gunner fans simply the best!
‘I’m confident our team can complete our mission next season! I loved to be a part of this club.
‘It was a great challenge and experience without a happy end, unfortunately.
‘Thank you very much for your overwhelming support! It was much appreciated!’
Former Arsenal star Charlie Nicholas has urged Emery to completely overhaul his defence ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
‘I wouldn’t keep any of the defenders. Maitland-Niles I feel sorry for because he’s not defensive-minded, he’s more of a central midfield player,’ Nicholas told Sky Sports.
‘He’s a good athlete but he’s not getting taught how to defend by these players who are on survival courses.
‘Koscielny’s been in the deep end now for three years. Arsene Wenger, when he started playing [Nacho] Monreal at centre-back we knew Arsenal were in trouble. I’m sorry to criticise individuals because they give every ounce that they have but they’re not good defensively, I would let them all go whatever it takes.
‘I don’t think it will take £150m to get them out and rebuild and build a new dynamic back four. The genuine aspects of it is I think £60m-£70m would make it better than it currently is.
‘We have a decent goalkeeper but we need pace and younger legs at the back. Bellerin and [Rob] Holding will come back. It’s time to use the younger players, like [Reiss] Nelson and [Joe] Willock.
‘But defensively everything must be pin-pointed to sort the centre of defence and a left-back.’