Emirates starlet ups sticks and leaves.
Arsenal midfielder Fran Merida is to return to Spain after he signed for Atletico Madrid on a free transfer.
The 20-year-old Merida, who has joined on a four-year deal, has been at Arsenal since 2006 after he was signed by boss Arsene Wenger from Barcelona.
But he failed to break into the first-team and last season was only used as a substitute in four league games.
He scored against Bolton in the league and started four games in the Carling and FA Cups and the Champions League.
Merida also scored a stunning goal in Arsenal’s 2-1 Carling Cup win over Liverpool in October.
The Spaniard, whose contract with Arsenal expires on 30 June, is due to be presented by the Europa League champions at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Friday.
Atletico also confirmed on Tuesday that Quique Sanchez Flores has renewed his contract as the coach for one season.
Flores, who previously coached both Valencia and Getafe as well as Portuguese giants Benfica, took over from Abel Resino in October 2009.
The 45-year-old Flores guided Atletico to a 2-1 Europa League final win over Fulham – the Spanish club’s first major trophy since 1996 – though they lost 2-0 in Sevilla in the Spanish Cup final. (BBC Sport)
Is this the flip side of having a squad chock a block full of young talent? There is no doubting that Fran Merida has talent. There may be some debate as to whether he has the physique to cope with the Premier League, there is perhaps questions about his ability to put in ninety minutes of toil as opposed to occasionally do something really quite special.
Was Wenger right to let the 20 year old leave though? I am sure in the back of Arsene’s mind he is probably thinking “I bet in five years time I will regret this” but then what else could the Gunners boss do? He could have tried to keep the youngster but given that in the almost three years since he got his first taste of English football, when he was picked to play against Newcastle in the Carling Cup, he is still yet to start a Premier League game and has only played 81 minutes of top tier football it is clear that to keep the boy at the club would only serve to further hold him back.
What do Arsenal fans think. Was it the right time to call it quits with Merida or should the club have considered keeping him?