Arsenal fans may have seen the last of Lauren in an Arsenal shirt after Arsène Wenger confirmed that the long-serving right back will be allowed to leave.
The former Cameroon international has just completed a lengthy rehabilitation following knee surgery last January but the man who celebrates his 30th birthday next Friday has returned to find two young defenders blocking his path to the first team.
"The problem is that since Lauren got injured I have Justin Hoyte who got promoted, I have Emmanuel Eboue who got promoted and I have Johan Djourou who can play in there too," explained Wenger.
"It's always the same. You make room for young players and then it is difficult to leave them out again. I feel we have too many players in that position now.
"Lauren is free to talk to anyone because it is the end of his contract but frankly I don't know if he has spoken to West Ham. He doesn't have to inform me if he wants to speak to anyone."
Wenger also talked briefly about the three Arsenal youngsters currently on loan at Birmingham. Swedish midfielder Sebastian Larsson might be sold but his fellow loanees Nicklas Bendtner and Fabrice Muamba will not be leaving Arsenal.
Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 12 Jan 2007