Arsene Wenger has hailed Theo Walcott as a "mental and moral leader" during his time with the club.
The England international signed for Everton on Wednesday after 12 years in north London and the Arsenal manager explained the thinking behind the move.
"[It was because of] the fact that he didn’t play enough here and I didn’t stand in his way because of that," Wenger told the matchday programme.
"Personally, I am very attached to Walcott because we have worked together for 12 years. I have a huge respect for him because he was 100 per cent professional.
"We’ve gone through some tough times together and I would like to say, ‘I wish you very well, Theo, and you’re always welcome to come back here’.
"I would like to thank him as well for the great contribution. He was also a mental and moral leader inside the dressing room with absolute integrity, and he’s a big loss on that front as well."
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