Valencia CF has signed defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin from Arsenal on a four-and-a-half year deal for a £12m release clause in his contract.
The Spanish side is also understood to have attached £71.2m release clause to the former Gunner after the player himself had rejected interest from Premier League clubs West Ham United and Crystal Palace.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger broke the news after his team’s goalless draw against Chelsea in the League Cup, saying: “He (Coquelin) goes to Valencia. Because he didn’t get enough games with us this season and he had an opportunity and I let him go.”
Coquelin, 26, joins Valencia with the club third in La Liga, 11 points behind leaders Barcelona as they look to bring Champions League football back to the Mestalla.
The Frenchman enjoyed a degree of prominence under Wenger after his return from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic in December 2014 — most notably when he formed a partnership with Santi Cazorla — but struggled for game time this season and started in only one game in the Premier League.
Despite having only signed a new contract that had been set to expire in 2020 at Arsenal just a year ago, Coquelin was never in consideration to play against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s true that there was interest in the summer but in my head I wanted to continue at Arsenal and do well there,” Coquelin said after joining Valencia. “It wasn’t to be and now this opportunity has come up.”
“I almost regret not having come before. I think it’s an excellent opportunity for me and I’m very grateful. It’s a big challenge, and a new start in my life for me, which I’m very excited about.”
Valencia would visit Deportivo La Coruna this weekend in La Liga as the struggling hosts would hope to build on their draw against Villareal last weekend and further their gap against the drop zone.