So it is farewell to Francis Coquelin, who has been at Arsenal for nine years since being found by Gilles Grimandi as a 17 year-old in a small town in the west of France. He is now still only 26 and Valencia will be a new journey for Francis, but he insists that part of him will always still be with Arsenal and he couldn’t leave without sending a heartfelt message to the fans. “I just want to thank them because I was at the club for a very long time. I always showed passion for the club and they all saw that in me, so I want to thank them for their support.
“I understand what they feel – their love for the club, I understand that. I was at Arsenal for nine years and it was like a second family to me. I understand the frustration when the results are not going well. We had an honest relationship and the fans have always been amazing towards me. It’s been great.
“Coming to Arsenal at such a young age, from a small club, it was a massive step for me. I would say that Arsenal raised me as a player, but also raised me as a man. I owe a lot to Arsenal, it has been nine years of my life and I will never forget it. But obviously I am moving on to a new challenge, a new club and my first impressions are very good so I am expecting another really good time.
“My first year was amazing, winning the FA Youth Cup in 2009, then coming back from my loan at Charlton I thought I wasn’t going to play for Arsenal, but I am happy I had the chance to show what I can do. I had a couple of great seasons starting every game. Winning the FA Cup [in 2015] was special.
“It was incredible. My loan at Charlton gave me a lot of confidence to come back with a lot of energy and I think you saw that in the first game I came back and played in. Obviously the win at Manchester City was huge and we went on to win a lot of games, finishing in the top three and winning the FA Cup, so it was an unbelievable six months. A year later we finished second, but we should have done more, we should have been at the end for the title, but to come back and do what I did was a special moment.
“I will obviously still follow the club and I am at a big club now, Valencia is a big club and the expectation is here as well, but after nine years you cannot forget about your club and Arsenal is always going to be in my heart, I will always follow them.”
Coquelin couldn’t go without thanking Arsene Wenger, who has been such a large influence on his life. “I owe him so much, he is the one who played me at this level. To play someone who comes from such a small club and give his trust as he did, I will always respect him as someone really important in my career. I am where I am today because of what he has done, and my work as well, but if your manager doesn’t play you, you cannot express yourself and he is the one who gave me that chance. I am really grateful for that and I wish him all the very best.”
Goodbye Francis, and the very best luck for the future at your new club….