Francis Coquelin admits that he should have probably left Arsenal in the summer rather than wait until the ongoing winter transfer window.
The French midfielder completed a permanent move to Valencia on Thursday (11 January) after having fallen out of favour under Arsene Wenger this season. He agreed a four and a half year deal with the La Liga outfit with a release clause of €80m (£72.1m).
Coquelin joined Arsenal from French club Laval FC in 2008 and came up through the youth ranks into the first-team. The 26-year-old spent three seasons on loan following his promotion to the senior team before establishing himself under Wenger midway through the 2014/15 campaign.
The Frenchman made 160 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions, but a change in formation and the arrival of Granit Xhaka last summer increased competition for places. Apart from the Swiss midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and recently, youth-team product Joe Willock has also started in midfield ahead of Coquelin.
Coquelin made just one start in the Premier League during the current campaign which prompted him to look for a move elsewhere. West Ham United were linked with a move for the French midfielder, but he chose to move to the Mestalla Stadium and revealed that he did so on the advice of Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla.
The newly presented Valencia midfielder admitted that he is very excited about the new challenge ahead and revealed that he should have probably left Arsenal sooner rather than wasting the first six months of the season in the hope of fighting for a place in the starting XI under Wenger.
"It's true that there was interest in the summer but in my head I wanted to continue at Arsenal and do well there. It wasn't to be and now this opportunity has come up," Coquelin said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
"I almost regret not having come before. I think it's an excellent opportunity for me and I'm very grateful," he added. "It's a big challenge, and a new start in my life for me, which I'm very excited about."
"He (Cazorla) told me it's an excellent club which I will not regret joining. I respect Cazorla's opinion a lot, so when he told me this, he convinced me. I trust what he tells me," Coquelin explained while praising Arsenal's injured star Cazorla.