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World Cup 2018

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Coquelin looks forward to new start after accepting life lies away from Arsenal

Francis Coquelin is excited by the new challenge that awaits him at Valencia - but admits it is one he probably should have taken up six months ago.

The 26-year-old Frenchman was unveiled by Valencia on Thursday afternoon after completing his move from Arsenal for a reported £12million.

Coquelin, who has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the LaLiga high-flyers, revealed at his presentation that Los Che were interested in him last summer but he opted to stay with the Gunners.

Having made just seven Premier League starts for Arsene Wenger's side this term, it is a decision Coquelin admits might not have been the right one.

He told a press conference as reported by the Spanish media: "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.

"I almost regret not having come before. I think it's an excellent opportunity for me and I'm very grateful.

"It's a big challenge, and a new start in my life for me, which I'm very excited about."

Coquelin arrived at Arsenal from French side Laval in 2008 and went on to make 160 first-team appearances for the Premier League club.

The combative midfielder spent several loan spells away from the Gunners before establishing himself as an integral part of a side which won the FA Cup in both 2015 and 2017.

The former France Under-21 international, who has yet to make a senior appearance for his country, says he spoke to several of his Arsenal colleagues - including Spain international Santi Cazorla - before committing to a move to LaLiga.

He said: " 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."

Valencia travel to Deportivo La Coruna in LaLiga on Saturday, with Coquelin saying: "Of course I'm ready to play, I'm here to help the team."

He added: "I've seen the team, they are doing very well, third in the table. I think the players are doing a great job."

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