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.
This hurts. The level of disrespect You should be ashamed for the way you’ve left the club after 9 years! Got what you wanted and still trying to have a dig Hope it’s worth it in the long run. https://t.co/7ShuTVss2u
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) August 6, 2019
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.
This guy has some nerves https://t.co/kwhdf9qWRK
— Girondins English (@girondins_en) October 3, 2019
“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, who are seventh in Ligue 1.