Mikel Arteta hailed “remarkable” David Luiz after revealing months of talks led to the decision for the defender to leave Arsenal this summer.
The 34-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and will depart the Emirates Stadium after two years in north London.
He is unlikely to play for the Gunners again after suffering a hamstring injury in the recent win at Newcastle, having made 73 appearances across all competitions since joining from rivals Chelsea.
Arteta praised Luiz’s contributions for the club and suggested the former Brazil international’s playing days are not yet at an end.
“He’s a player who has won everything in football and has earned every right to do so through who he is as a player and as a person,” Arteta said.
“I had the privilege to work with him for 18 months. I really enjoyed it. I think we got on really good. I think we had some great moments together.
“He’s been really helpful, someone who we really like and appreciate so much.
“So I say thank you to him and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter because I’m sure knowing David that he will have many more to come as player and in the future somehow related to the game.
“When you get to know the person, his background, where he was raised in Brazil and what he’s done. To get to this point is remarkable.
“I’ve really enjoyed and learnt from him. He’s been very helpful every time with the team and I feel sadness as well because you get attached to the players emotionally. Again, I have to say thank you to him.”
Asked if the decision for Luiz to leave was a mutual one, Arteta evaded giving a straight answer, saying: “It’s after a few conversations that we had, David and I.
“We discussed this situation in different occasions and the other day we made the final decision on that.
“We have very clear talks in the last few months. He’s given his best. I tried to help him as much as I possibly could – the club as well.
“And after some conversations we decided that it was the best way to do it now.”
It remains to be seen if Arsenal will look to sign a replacement for Luiz this summer.
One option is to integrate William Saliba into the first-team squad when the 20-year-old returns from a loan stint at Nice.
Saliba joined Arsenal for a reported £27million when he was just 18 but has yet to make his debut for the club as Arteta appeared uncertain of his abilities.
But now the Arsenal boss has said the France youth international will be given a chance to impress before a decision is taken on what part he will play in the 2021-22 campaign.
“When we finish the season we will sit down and discuss the roles of every member of the squad and how they can fulfil that role,” he said when asked about Saliba ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace.
“He is our player so he will be back here for sure and after that we will make the decision based on the agreement of the role he is going to play in the squad.
“Ben Knapper (loan manager) is always in contact with him, he is the one creating every assessment. As a coaching staff we are obviously following his progression, watching his games and are in contact with him.
“It is not an ideal world to feel that he still belongs here and you can’t have a face-to-face relationship, but we try to do the best possible way.”