The 28 years old England striker Danny Welbeck has played his last game for Arsenal, with the club announcing his impending departure after Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Brighton.
He has been sidelined since November when he suffered a broken right ankle in the Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon, the striker falling awkwardly when attempting to meet a cross.
There had been rumours in the past few weeks that Arsenal would offer Welbeck a new contract when his current one expires this summer, but an on-pitch presentation following the draw against Brighton confirmed his exit.
The former Manchester United man walked out onto the pitch at the Emirates to receive recognition for his services at the London club.
Arsenal’s stadium announcer, acknowledging his popularity among the players and fans, said: “His presence will be missed in the dressing room.”
Joining the club in 2014 from Manchester United in a £16m move, Welbeck scored 33 goals in 127 appearances for the Gunners, including five this season before his injury.
Welbeck has been recovering well from his injury and if he can stay fit, his obvious talents and versatility could be a real asset for a number of potential suitors, all of whom will be able to pick him up on a free transfer.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery had been considering extending the forward’s stay with the Gunners, but he was third choice behind Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette which could have swayed Welbeck’s intentions to move elsewhere.
Emery said: “I spoke with the club about this situation. The decision is he’s going to leave.”
His availability is expected to be of interest to Everton, Newcastle and West Ham. Should he join the latter, he would team up with his former teammate Jack Wilshere.
Welbeck isn’t the only first-team player leaving Arsenal this summer. Also recognised on the pitch after the Brighton game – a result that means Arsenal cannot now finish in the top-four and would have to win the Europa League to secure Champions League qualification – were Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey.
Cech is retiring at the end of the season and is expected to take up a coaching role at his former club Chelsea
He hasn’t played his final game, however, with him expected to be between the goalposts for the Europa League semi-final second-leg against Valencia this coming Thursday.
Juventus -bound Ramsey, meanwhile, was in tears as he received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Emirates after receiving his gift from the club. The Welshman is joining the Italian champions after 11 years with the club.