Hector Bellerin has written an emotional farewell letter to Arsenal fans after leaving the club on Deadline Day to join Barcelona.
Bellerin came through the Barcelona academy but joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2011, going on to make 239 appearances for the club in all competitions and developing a near-perfect London accent in the process.
However, the Covid-19 lockdown triggered feelings of homesickness for Bellerin, who spent last season on loan with Real Betis and has now returned to Barcelona on a permanent, one-year contract.
After the confirmation of the move, Bellerin took to social media to write: "Hello Gunners. Feels like it was only a couple of years ago when I touched down in London for the very first time. From day one I truly felt at home and I’ve said time and time again how this city has shaped me into who I am, and how much I owe it.
"It’s with a lot of sadness that today I say goodbye to this club, the fans, the staff, the players and our family all together.
"There’s been highs, so high, and lows, so low, but I’ve enjoyed thoroughly every single experience I’ve lived with you Gunners. It’s not always been easy being an Arsenal player these past 11 years, but it’s always been an honour to carry the weight of this badge and defend it almost 250 times in front of you all.
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"I want to thank Arsene [Wenger], Francis [Cagigao], the late Steve Rowley, Steve Bould, Neil Banfield, Unai Emery, Freddie Ljungberg and Mikel [Arteta]. Thank you to the staff who work tirelessly for us to have it all ready when we step onto the pitch. Physios, conditioning coaches, doctors, chefs, kit men, cleaners, security, and everyone else who is a part of this family.
"Thank you to the players who have made my time here unforgettable. And most importantly, thank you Gunners, thank you for your continued support throughout all these years, for how supportive you were in the good and the bad, for how enjoyable it’s been to play in this beautiful stadium and for sharing together every single step of this journey of mine.
"With the sadness of a goodbye, but the excitement of a new beginning, I say to you all THANK YOU. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner."
Arteta also sent Bellerin his own goodbye message after the deal was finalised.
"We today say goodbye to Hector and we thank him so much for his loyalty and commitment to Arsenal Football Club," the boss said. "During his 11 years with Arsenal, Hector won three FA Cups and made nearly 250 appearances – such a huge contribution to the club.
"I’m privileged to have played in the same squad as Hector for three seasons, wearing the Arsenal shirt and sharing many great moments on and off the football pitch together. We thank you Hector and wish you and your family all the best for your return to Barcelona."