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Experienced Arsenal defender confirms exit on free transfer

Experienced Arsenal defender confirms exit on free transfer
© Reuters
Arsenal right-back Cedric Soares confirms that he will be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of June.

A long-serving Arsenal defender has confirmed that he will be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Experienced right-back Cedric Soares has given the Gunners four-and-a-half years of service since initially joining on loan from Southampton midway through the 2019-20 campaign.

The 32-year-old's stay was made permanent that same summer, and he has since made 64 appearances for Mikel Arteta's side in all tournaments, scoring twice and setting up five more goals.

Cedric was particularly important to the Gunners in the 2021-22 season during Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney's spells out through injury, but he has since slipped down the pecking order in North London.

With Tomiyasu, Ben White, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Jurrien Timber and Jakub Kiwior all providing alternative full-back options, Cedric has played just five matches for the first team this season, totalling 124 minutes.

Cedric: 'Arsenal will have a special place in my heart'

Cedric's last appearance for the North London giants came off the bench in March's 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield United, while his only senior start came in a Champions League dead rubber against PSV Eindhoven.

Out of contract this summer, the former Inter Milan defender has not been expected to receive an extension, and he confirmed on social media on Monday that his time was up.

Sharing a montage of his memorable moments in an Arsenal shirt, accompanied by the final message "Once a Gunner, always a Gunner", Cedric wrote: "What a Team and what a Club 😍. When I say a team, I mean exactly that, quality in every player, the professionalism that you show and the amazing human beings you guys are, so thank you!

"When I say club I mean all the departments, all the staff that is constantly putting all the hard hours on and off the pitch to make it possible to fight at the highest level.

"When I say club it also means its heart and with this I mean you guys, THE FANS, that made this journey so unreal and unforgettable. So to all the fans, I thank you! You will always have a special place in my heart! @Arsenal ❤️ COYG!"

Which players could leave Arsenal alongside Cedric?

Arsenal's Cedric Soares pictured in December 2023© Reuters

Cedric is already one of a handful of Arsenal players confirmed to be heading elsewhere this summer, as fellow soon-to-be free agent Mohamed Elneny - another player frozen out of the ranks this season - has announced his exit too.

In addition, teenage defender Reuell Walters - who Arteta overlooked for a start against PSV in favour of Cedric - will not be renewing his contract, and nor will goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo following his stellar Wrexham loan.

Bids should also be entertained for Nuno Tavares, Tierney and Albert Sambi Lokonga when their loan spells come to an end, while Marquinhos - whose stint with Fluminense is due to end in December - could depart permanently as well.

In terms of current first-team players, English quartet Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Aaron Ramsdale could all be axed, and selling the latter three would go down as pure profit on Arsenal's financial records due to their academy status.

It is also unclear what the future holds for Thomas Partey, who will soon enter the last year of his deal and is believed to be on the shortlist of some Saudi Pro League clubs.

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