Arsenal star confirms exit with heartfelt message as brutal Mikel Arteta reality made clear

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal, looks on prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and AFC Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on May 04, 2024 in London, England.

Arsenal youngster Reuell Walters has confirmed his departure from the club at the end of his contract after turning down a new deal. had reported earlier this week that the 19-year-old was set to leave this summer and he has now confirmed that on social media.

The versatile defender has been an unused substitute for the senior team on 11 occasions this season while he has regularly featured for the Arsenal academy in Premier League 2, UEFA Youth League and EFL Trophy action.

Following a fifth-placed finish, the Gunners entered the PL 2 play-offs, but after beating Manchester United, they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Chelsea. As a result, Walters' 2023/24 campaign is over and with that his time at Arsenal has also concluded.

The teenager has been with the club since 2020 following a move from Tottenham and he has now chosen to not renew his contract. According to The Athletic, Arsenal maintain he has left by mutual consent however if he does join another English club, the Gunners will be entitled to a compensation fee.

Confirming his exit, alongside a photo of himself in Arsenal colours, Walters wrote on X: "Thank you to everyone that’s made this part of my career special. It’s been a pleasure playing for this club and I wish you all the best for the future [red heart emoji]." Walters has now become the latest young star to depart north London, citing a lack of senior opportunities.

The likes of Miguel Azeez, Bradley Ibrahim, Marcelo Flores, Zech Medley, Cohan Bramall, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom have previously moved on with Amario Cozier-Duberry another looking at his options amid contract talks. Despite the emergence of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe in recent years, the pathway from Hale End to Emirates Stadium has become somewhat harder to navigate.

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In that regard, Mikel Arteta and Arsenal have simply become victims of their own success. Pressure has now significantly increased on every game with the club clearly entering the final stages of the current project and as such minutes for younger players have become scarce.

Earlier on in the season, Arteta opted against playing any academy stars, even off the bench, in the Champions League clash against PSV despite qualification as group-winners being confirmed. After the game, Arteta was asked about his decision and to give him credit, the reasoning in his answer was understandable.

"I don't think it was the right context," the Spaniard said. "Making eight changes already, to throw them in there against a team that hasn't lost at home in nearly two years, I didn't think it was the right moment.

"I wanted to see how the game developed, but it was too much I think for them and as well we had three little issues, and we had to play the subs, and we had no room because we really wanted to play Emile as well."

While his admission does makes sense, a worrying trend has emerged and therefore Walters looks unlikely to be the last highly-rated academy star to leave before making the jump to the senior set-up.