Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has admitted he is almost certain to retire this summer, with the Gunners, Tottenham and Manchester City all prepared to offer him a coaching role, following a 17-year playing career.
The 34-year-old bid an emotional farewell to Gunners fans on Sunday, helping his side to a comfortable 4-0 win over Aston Villa, after his shot deflected off Aston Villa goalkeeper Mark Bunn's back for an own goal in injury time.
Arteta's teammates comforted him after the final whistle on Sunday, as the reality set in that his playing career had finally come to an end.
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay5
And the former Spain under-21 has admitted that he will consider his future in the off season, with options away from the pitch open to the former Everton midfielder.
Tottenham are attempting to prize the Arsenal man away from the Emirates, which would cause some controversy in north London.
"I am going to leave (it open) by one per cent because in football one per cent is a lot and things can twist very quickly." Arteta told the Daily Mail.
"But I have different options now to be related to football which I am very grateful for. It is very unusual to have opportunities at this level."
"As well, that made me think it was probably time (to retire) and the way I have been watching football in the last few months - or probably over a year - it was not as a player, it was more as a coach. Then you have to think about it."
The Spaniard made just 14 appearances for Arsenal this campaign, and the woodwork cruelly denied the former Rangers midfielder a farewell goal, having failed to score all season. But Arteta insists he does not feel disappointed by manager Arsene Wenger's decision not to play him on a regular basis.
Arteta upset with himself
"You have to be honest with yourself. That's why I haven't been upset with the manager (by not playing), I have been upset with myself." Arteta admitted.
"When you can't get it right and you have been through injuries and difficult moments at this level… for me to play at this club you have to be the best in your position.
"For me, the standards you need to play for this club, it cannot be eight out of 10, it has to be 10 out of 10. When you cannot deliver that, it is not good enough."
Arteta made 110 league appearances for Arsenal, 149 in total, scoring 16 goals and helped the Gunners win back-to-back FA Cups in 2013-14 and 2014-15. But now the midfielder has a big decision to make about his career off the pitch.
However, Arteta has hinted that he could stay at Arsenal in a coaching capacity, admitting he highly respects the club - hinting he would rule out an offer from Tottenham, while a role allowing him to link up with former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City is a tempting offer.
"I have so much respect for this club, what they think about me and what they have shown in the last few weeks that they want to do with me, that I cannot talk about any other things." Arteta added.
"It is always difficult to leave first. Monday is going to be a very difficult day I believe because after all those emotions, you realise that probably you hang up your boots and stop something I have been doing for the last 17 or 18 years in a professional way. I have to digest and consume all those emotions first."
Should Mike Arteta stay at Arsenal to take on a coaching role? Give your opinion in the comment box below.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms