Speaking in an exclusive interview with L’Équipe, French defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin discussed his move from Arsenal to Valencia.
Why did you decide to leave Arsenal to join Valencia?
I am at an important stage in my career. I had little game time with Arsenal. And I wanted to see and experience something else. I chose a club with a strong history, and that is welcoming. And right away, I felt great here.
Your status at Arsenal was not to your liking?
It’s not that. I spent amazing years at Arsenal. It’s the club that gave me my chance, I will never forget that. It is difficult to leave. Yes, I was playing matches, but not necessarily the most important ones… I still need to grow.
Did Arsène Wenger try to keep you?
We had a very healthy discussion together. He is someone who I respect immensely. I told him what I thought, he told me what he thought, and he understood. The only thing was that I didn’t want to go on loan. I really wanted to start something new. This was perfect.
Do you have the feeling that you have unfinished business with Arsenal?
Honestly no. In 2014, when I was coming to the end of my contract, I would have if I had left. Things started to click at the point in time, and we won many games. We won a cup, finished in the top four on multiple occasions. I can’t be disappointed about that.
What was said for you to join Arsenal?
Well, first and foremost, I had great feedback from Santi Cazorla on the coach, Marcelino. After training, the coach told me about his great ambitions: to build a great European team. And he also told me about the family-like atmosphere at the club. I am arriving with no particular status. I know Geoffrey Kondogbia and Dani Parejo are two high level players there. It is up to me to get to that level.
What do you know about Spain?
Currently, I can’t tell you that much about the game there. I’ve watched games but it isn’t enough to come to a definitive opinion. What I can tell you so far, is that training is intense and that I have really enjoyed it. With very high level players.