Arsene Wenger admits it will be strange seeing Kieran Gibbs wearing the opposition shirt when he returns to the Emirates Stadium with West Bromwich Albion on Monday (25 September).
Gibbs won three FA Cups and two Community Shields during his time with the Gunners, while also breaking into the senior England squad. However, a combination of fitness and form saw him drop down the pecking order in the last couple of seasons.
Nacho Monreal was the manager's preferred choice at left-back and this summer the club signed Sead Kolasinac, who plays at left wing back. Gibbs was on the final-year of his contract and was not offered a new deal and Wenger confirmed that it was one of the reasons for his departure this summer. Tony Pulis was delighted at having signed the defender, especially for a price of around £5m ($6.7m).
"We didn't offer him a new deal and that's why he decided to go as well," Wenger said, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.
"It will be strange to see him in a different shirt because he is a player who has been educated here from a very young age.
"He has become an English international here. He has made a good career here and I believe that Arsenal is very proud for that and Kieran Gibbs can be proud," the French coach added.
"What happened to Kieran Gibbs is he had been bothered a few times when he was in front of other players. Many times he was a regular player here, but he had some fitness worries as well and that stopped him here."
Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, decided to stay at Arsenal and fight for his place despite entering the final year of his contract and Wenger has made it clear that the club offering him a new deal is dependent on the midfielder proving his fitness during the course of the campaign.
Wilshere has struggled with multiple injury issues during the last few seasons, which has seen him drop down the pecking order in the race for a midfield role at the club. He spent last season on loan at Bournemouth in order to build match fitness, but after a strong first seven months of the campaign, he suffered a fracture that ended his season pre-maturely.
The 25-year-old returned to Arsenal and has since recovered from his injury and begun the process of earning his place in the team. He made his first appearance as a substitute in the game against FC Cologne in the Europa League and made his first Arsenal start in 493 days during the Gunners' 1-0 win over Doncaster in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday (20 September).
He is unlikely to be involved when Arsenal take on West Brom on Monday, but could return for the trip to Belarus to take on Bate Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday. Wenger believes Wilshere wants to remain at the club and has made it clear that he wishes that the midfielder fulfills his potential at the Emirates rather than at another club.
"It is down to the fact that he can remain fit or not," Wenger was quoted as saying on the club's official site when asked about the chances of Wilshere earning a new deal.
"I think he's an Arsenal man and an Arsenal player. He would certainly like to stay but we haven't spoken about that because at the start of the season I thought we had to see how it evolves and see what kind of influence he can have in the squad throughout the season."