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Mikel Arteta retires to move into coaching after offers from Arsenal, Man City and Spurs

The Spaniard bid an emotional farewell to Arsenal fans yesterday.

Arteta is now looking to move into coaching.
Arteta is now looking to move into coaching.
Image: Scott Heavey

ARSENAL MIDFIELDER MIKEL Arteta has confirmed yesterday’s game against Aston Villa was his last as a professional.

The Spanish midfielder’s contract with the Gunners expires this summer and he has announced his intention to retire from playing and move into coaching.

The 34-year-old said he was “99 percent” certain to hang up his boots after turning out for Arsenal for the last time in their 4-0 win over already relegated Villa on the final day of the Premier League season.

Arteta burst into tears when the full-time whistle was blown before explaining why.

“It was unbelievable because the last few months have been really difficult and I have been through a difficult position as well with my role in the team,” the Spaniard said.

“To have the opportunity to say goodbye and 99 per cent to say goodbye to the sport that I love is very hard, but my taste of it can’t get better than today.

“A big thank you to everybody.”

Arteta, who joined Arsenal in 2011 following a successful spell with Everton, won two FA Cups and two Community Shields with Arsene Wenger’s side and insists he knew it was time to call time on his playing days with the Gunners.

“It is very hard to stop but I wanted to leave it… I wanted to decide and I thought for the last few months I wasn’t good enough to represent this club on the pitch,” he said.

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Arsenal v Aston Villa - Barclays Premier League - Emirates Stadium A farewell lap. Source: Scott Heavey

Arteta confirmed he has three “very different” options on the table, with reports linking him with roles at Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, and he said there was a chance he could stay at Arsenal in a backroom capacity.

Reports say incoming City boss Pep Guardiola made a move for Arteta a number of weeks ago while he has a close relationship with Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino after the pair played together at Paris Saint Germain.

Arteta added: “It is very unusual to have opportunities at this level. As well, that made me think it was probably time (to retire) and the way I have been watching football in the last few months — or probably over a year — it was not as a player, it was more as a coach. Then you have to think about it.”

“I have been left the door very open (at Arsenal) and I may have to make a decision. I don’t want to say clubs but I have three very different options and I am very proud because it is not common.”

With reporting from AFP

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Ryan Bailey

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