Mikel Arteta is almost certain he has played for the last time as a professional after enjoying his farewell Arsenal appearance in Sunday’s 4-0 Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
Former Everton midfielder Arteta replaced Mesut Ozil during the closing stages, winning a warm ovation after Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick secured a convincing triumph that saw Arsene Wenger’s side pip London rivals Tottenham to second place.
The 34-year-old’s injury-time effort was diverted into his own net by Mark Bunn, the Villa goalkeeper credited with an own goal to deny Arsenal’s club captain a fitting goodbye.
Arteta has been linked with a move to Manchester City to join the coaching staff of incoming boss Pep Guardiola from next season, although he suggested there is a possibility of remaining at Emirates Stadium in a similar capacity.
Having shed tears after the final whistle, he told Arsenal’s official website: “I have to take some time. I’m 99 per cent sure I will stop playing football. I have different options now to continue in relation to this magnificent sport.
“I need to sit down with my family and decide what is best for me and for football in general in the next chapter.
“I love competing and I love this game. I wanted to decide when the time was to leave. I preferred to make that decision myself, and not the other away around. In my opinion, I’m leaving the best club in England for sure.
“I’m very happy because the people and the manager have been unbelievable for me these last few weeks. They have left the doors open for me at this club. That means a lot.”
Asked whether he would try to claim Arsenal’s final goal of the season, Arteta said: “I don’t know. I couldn’t write a better script probably. The boys have been absolutely magnificent with me in the last two days.
“The things I’ve experienced will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s a day I will never forget.”