Denilson: I'll quit Arsenal this summer
Brazilian midfielder Denilson has revealed in a heartfelt interview that he will leave Arsenal in the summer, after a "shameful" season that has been the "worst" of his career.
Denilson has known for eight months that he is leaving, having already cleared his exit with Arsene Wenger. The 23-year-old cites a desire to win trophies and cement his place in Brazil's first XI, admitting nobody at Arsenal knows the answer to their six-year trophy drought.
"A footballer's career is over very quickly so it is time for me to move on. This has been the worst season of my life," Denilson said in The Sun. "I made up my mind eight months ago. But I haven't said anything because I did not want to disrupt the team during the season.
"I've been to see Arsene Wenger and told him how I felt and he agreed to let me go. I know some people will think I'm crazy. They are right. It is a great club, with a great organisation, a great manager and so many talented players. I need a fresh challenge and although I'm taking a big gamble, I'm ready to take that risk.
"I am a footballer and I want to play every week because I want the chance to play for Brazil. Look at Lucas [Leiva] at Liverpool. He's been playing regularly and he's in the Brazil team. That's where I want to be.
"I would love to be able to do that at Arsenal but based on how things have gone this season, I think it's time for a change. So I am flying home to Brazil on Sunday and I'm hoping I can make a fresh start in Spain or maybe Italy."
Denilson leaves after the Gunners suffered a horror end to the season, losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham before crashing out of the Champions League and throwing away their title challenge. It now appears Arsenal will have to go through a Champions League qualifying round next season, and the midfielder admits there is a lot of head-scratching going on in Arsene Wenger's changing room.
"I am so upset. I am a winner and I came here to win trophies but I've been here for five years and won nothing. "There's something missing at Arsenal but no one knows what it is. Not the manager, not the players - nobody. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool spend millions and millions on players.
"But we are still the best footballing side in Britain, we play beautiful football. Only Barcelona do it better. But we don't win trophies. That's so frustrating, you can't imagine how frustrating. Some people say we don't succeed because we are too young and naive - but that's no excuse.
"We didn't lose the Carling Cup final to Birmingham because we were too young. We lost because our confidence collapsed completely when Obafemi Martins scored for them. This was a final we should have won, we were the favourites.
"It was the opportunity to silence all our critics. Here's a trophy to shut you all up after five years - and this is going to be the start of many. What a lift that would have given us all. Especially as we were in such a fantastic position in all the other competitions too.
"The quarter-finals of the FA Cup, quarter-finals of the Champions League and sitting second in the league. It was all there for us and we were so motivated. But when [Obafemi] Martins scored it was all over. You could see it in the eyes of the players and the supporters there at Wembley. Our confidence just drained away and we never got it back. It was a catastrophe.
"That was the moment our season was ruined, it started a domino effect and no one could stop it. I knew it was a massive moment, the point where it all started to go badly wrong and I think we all knew. I went home afterwards and just cried. I was very upset, very sad and I was ashamed."
It appears the pain of failure has grown too much for Denilson, who has only featured in seven league games since the turn of the year.
"I remember leading Liverpool 1-0 and they scored in the last seconds. We were 4-0 up at Newcastle but drew. We also lost to Newcastle at home and West Brom and Aston Villa. We threw it away against Sunderland and Blackburn at the Emirates.
"Let's be honest, some of those games were shocking, shameful. We are better than that. But until Arsenal stop throwing away those silly points in those stupid games nothing will change."