2006-05-29

Pires leaves the Club

After deciding to leave Arsenal, Robert Pires has revealed that he took the decision because he no longer felt a key component of Arsene Wenger's squad.

In fact, Pires agreed to move to Spanish club Villarreal next season on a free transfer after refusing a new one-year contract with Arsenal.

The Frenchman was looking for a two-year deal, something Villarreal were offering, but the main reason for his move was that he felt he had slipped down the pecking order under Wenger.

"I have to admit that it was not easy as I've had six fantastic seasons at Arsenal and we played the kind of football I love with pace and tempo," Pires expressed.

"However, I have to say I have had some disappointments this season as, for example, I was on the bench very often."

Pires and Jose Antonio Reyes had been struggling to earn a place in the left midfield all season and Reyes was often given the nod over Pires, especially in the second half of the season.

And even though Pires won the battle with Reyes to start the Champions League final in Paris, he was substituted after just 18 minutes when goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off.

The midfielder does not hold any ill-feelings towards Wenger for the move at the Stade de France but he admits that it represented a wider trend which he believed would curtail his chances at the north London club.

"It's obvious that the coach had to make a choice about who to bring off, but for me it was a terrible moment and also proof that the coach did not trust me like before," Pires finished.

Pires will officially go to Villarreal at the start of July.

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