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Mikel Arteta sad to see David Luiz leave Arsenal at end of season

Mikel Arteta feels “sadness” at the prospect of losing David Luiz, who will depart Arsenal at the end of June after two seasons. The 33-year-old has agreed to leave when his contract expires, marking the first step in what is expected to be an extensive revamp of Arsenal’s squad.

Arteta suggested the decision to part company with David Luiz, who signed a season’s extension last June and is among the club’s highest earners, was mutual. “We had very clear talks in the last few months,” the manager said.

“We already had a big decision to make last year when we had to extend his contract during the Covid world, the pay cuts and everything.

“We managed to extend that for one more season. He’s given his best: I tried to help him as much as I possibly could and the club did as well. After some conversations, we decided it’s the best way to do it now.”

David Luiz has made 73 appearances in a mixed spell since joining from Chelsea. Arteta has spoken glowingly in the past of the influence the Brazilian wields off the pitch and believes his presence will be missed. “I’ve really enjoyed learning from him,” he said. “He’s been very helpful every time with the team and I feel sadness as well because you get attached to the players emotionally.

“First it’s the player that we have to get the maximum out of, then it’s the person. When it gets to these stages, it’s tough and it hurts because that relationship is now going to be going away, at least in not seeing him every day.”

There are doubts over a number of other senior players. Asked about Willian, who has been linked with a move after a disappointing season since his arrival from Stamford Bridge, Arteta said: “Every player that is under contract is very likely to be with us next season.”

He struck a similar note about Bernd Leno, who has shown no appetite to extend his contract beyond 2023 but recently told German media that he is in no rush to depart. “He has two years here and he belongs here,” Arteta said.

Arsenal visit Crystal Palace on Wednesday and require a win to keep alive hopes of qualifying for Europe, most likely to the new Conference League if at all. They are unsure whether David Luiz will return from a hamstring injury either at Selhurst Park or in the finale against Brighton on Sunday, meaning he may have played his final game for the club.