Chris Willock was officially unveiled as a Benfica player earlier this week and has said his goodbyes after 14 years at Arsenal.
The talented 19-year-old winger, who was out of contract this summer, rejected the club’s offer of an extension to make a brave move abroad. He harbours hopes of a first-team breakthrough in the not too distant future and it’s fair to say that he felt extended opportunities were increasingly distant with the Gunners.
After a number of messages wishing him well across social media, he finally updated his Instagram account with a picture of him smiling alongside club president Luís Filipe Vieira.
Willock’s picture caption read: “Since the age of 5, all I’ve known is Arsenal. I’ve gone through the youth ranks, trained and learnt from the academy. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Arsenal football club, staff, players, coaches, managers and the fans who have helped and influenced me to become the player I am today.
“This was a huge decision for me and my family to make. And not one we made lightly. I’m excited at the opportunity to play for Benfica. It’s a new challenge, new culture and new group of players! Looking forward to showing them what I’ve got! #Benfica #EPluribusUnum.”
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Since the age of 5, all I've known is @arsenal. I've gone through the youth ranks, trained and learnt from the academy. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Arsenal football club, staff, players, coaches, managers and the fans who have helped and influenced me to become the player I am today. This was a huge decision for me and my family to make. And not one we made lightly. I'm excited at the opportunity to play for @slbenfica. It's a new challenge, new culture and new group of players! Looking forward to showing them what I've got! #Benfica #EPluribusUnum Desde os meus 5 anos que apenas conheci o @arsenal. Passei por todos os escalões jovens, treinei e aprendi muito na academia. Quero agradecer a toda as pessoas que fazem parte do Arsenal Football Club, todo o staff, preparadores físicos e treinadores que me ajudaram e me prepararam para ser o jogador que sou hoje. Esta foi uma decisão muito importante, tomada com muita seriedade em conjunto com a minha família. Estou muito excitado pela oportunidade de jogar pelo @slbenfica. É um novo desafio, uma nova cultura e um novo grupo de jogadores! Estou muito ansioso por lhes mostrar do que sou capaz! #Benfica #epluribusunum
Willock’s words prove that the decision to leave wasn’t a straightforward one, which is understandable considering his lengthy time with the club.
A talented prospect and one that was always destined for success in north London, you can appreciate his impatience to some extent as he sees others in his age-group flourish whilst he’s still vying for a place among Arsene Wenger’s first-team plans.
The move is likely to be beneficial for his development and despite leaving speculation about his future in the dark until the last minute, it’s a calculated decision which could pay off.