FC Sion forward Yassin Fortune has revealed the reason behind his decision to leave Arsenal despite academy chief Per Mertesacker kindly requested him to stay.

Fortune joined Arsenal in 2015 from French side RC Lens and went on to become a regular player for the Gunners youth teams.

The 19-year-old, who joined along with Jeff-Reine Adelaide in a reported £3m double deal, was never able to break through at the Emirates for the first team.

The Frenchman’s idol is Arsenal hero Thierry Henry and has said he patterns his game after him, but compares himself to Danny Welbeck.

Fortune, who left the North London side in June and joined Swiss side FC Sion, told French publication Foot Mercato that Arsenal offered him a four-year deal but still opted to leave.

“Arsenal offered me a 4-year extension,” Fortune said.

“But I wanted to enter into professional football. Arsenal is a great club, but I needed playing time.”

“I had to play, and I preferred to leave. It was difficult to stay at Arsenal in the sense that there were big names and a new manager (Emery).”

“I spoke with Per Mertesacker which made me think very hard. He wanted me to absolutely stay.”

“But I felt again that the best solution was to leave. At that moment, I was not yet in contact with Sion, but with other clubs.”

“I was contacted by Sion a couple of weeks after deciding to leave.”

“I wanted to come back to France but despite a few contacts Sion convinced me.”

Fortune also has taken time to praise and thank for former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

He added: “Wenger had already seen me play. He spoke with Lens. Today, I thank him for all that. I could never thank him enough for that.”

“In the youth teams at Arsenal, he would come and see us often, he would speak with us.”

“It is a very familiar club. From employees to gardeners, everyone loves each other. That really struck me.”

Fortune has managed to score 12 goals in 16 appearances for FC Sion in the Swiss Super League so far this season.

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