Laurent Koscielny: “I left Arsenal with my head held high.”

Speaking as part of an exclusive interview with L’Équipe, Bordeaux defender Laurent Koscielny discussed his departure from Arsenal.

As part of justifying your return, you evoked less of an intensity in Ligue 1. Does that mean that you still are at the required level for Bordeaux but no longer Arsenal?

It is mainly that a Premier League season is very long and is physically and mentally very demanding. I did not feel capable to do 40 or 50 matches and I did not want to finish my career with injuries. I have gone down a level but it is to enjoy myself more on the pitch.

Did you feel, during last season, that you had reached your threshold?

I was at Arsenal for nine years. I saw a lot of people come and go, I also lost quite a few friends who changed clubs. Either they finished over there, or they returned to France. With my family we felt that this was the right moment. Every factor was considered as part of my thinking: the footballing side, my physical state, my wife, my children, the daily life that we could have.

At which point did you decide to return?

After my injury (Achilles tendon rupture in May 2018), I was already deep in thought. It continued to be mulled over throughout the season. In the final two, three months, we were really asking ourselves questions.

Was it not possible to leave the club without boycotting the pre-season tour in the United States?

I can say that I left with my head held high. All those who I got to work with over nine years, my team members, the people at the club… Everyone respected my decision to return home, with my family. Aside from that, we could have found another way out, it was not my decision.

Ian Wright’s criticism of you, did it not hurt you for example?

I have always been straight, respectful and loyal. The end finished badly, it is like that. I have always given my all. I also had discussions with the coach, who showed himself to be understanding. For what happened after that…

Do you feel accountable to your family? In an interview with Canal + in October 2018, you showed regret for being “egoistical” when you were going through rehabilitation, to the point that you were on the urge of tears.

The rehabilitation was long and complicated. My family would come to see me on their holidays but, at the end, I would train twice a day and I would rarely see them. I did not spend much time with them whilst they were trying to help me. That was hard. You, you are in your bubble. It is when you come home and are told: “You were cold, you were not speaking.” That is also why if I can have football and family life together…


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