Laurent Koscielny: I left Arsenal with my head held high

Bordeaux defender Laurent Koscielny was criticised for the manner of his Arsenal exit, but said he has no regrets over his decision to quit.

Former Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny.   -  Getty Images

Laurent Koscielny quit Arsenal as he could not cope with the demands of Premier League football and has insisted he left with his head held high.

The 34-year-old ended a nine-year stay with the north London side in August by sealing a return to Ligue 1 with Bordeaux. The nature of Koscielny's exit upset many Arsenal supporters, the defender having refused to take part in the club's pre-season tour of the United States.

He further angered fans when removing an Arsenal shirt to reveal a Bordeaux one underneath as part of his announcement video for the French club, with Ian Wright among those to vent his fury on Twitter.

However, Koscielny has defended his decision to force through an exit over concerns he would not be able to cope with Arsenal's hectic fixture schedule. "A Premier League season is very long. It requires a lot physically and mentally," he told L'Equipe.

 

"I didn't feel I could play 40-50 matches and I didn't want to end my career with injuries. I've gone down a level, but to take more pleasure. Either I finished 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."

 

In response to claims he lacked respect for Arsenal in his final weeks at the club, Koscielny said: "All of those I worked with for nine years... everyone respected my decision to return home with my family. I've always been upstanding, respectful and loyal. I always gave my maximum. I spoke with the coach, who was understanding. And as for the rest..."

Koscielny has made seven appearances for new side Bordeaux, which is seventh in Ligue 1.

  Dugout videos