Flamini: Arsenal delays pushed me into AC Milan arms

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Flamini, 24, told The Sun: "If Arsenal had offered me a contract last summer I would still be their player now.

"Last July I told Arsenal I wanted to extend my contract so, of course, I would have signed if they had offered me a deal . . . but they didn't.

"They said they wanted me to prove myself first.

"It was difficult for me at the beginning. I had to see it as a challenge but I won't lie, it was not easy. You have to be mentally very strong to cope."

To his credit, the French international knuckled down and played his heart out.

He added: "If I had a serious injury my future would have been in question as I was out of contract. But, touch wood, I don't want to think about these things and, thankfully, I played well and I can be proud of what I achieved."

By the time Arsenal made an offer they were competing with Milan, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter and Juventus who were all desperate to sign Flamini.

Yet the midfielder was so determined to stay at Arsenal - even after receiving huge offers from Europe's big hitters - that he was prepared to wait until the last minute to reach a deal.

He added: "We started to speak in December but I knew it was a huge decision. At that time we were playing every three days. I didn't want to think too much about that because I wanted to focus on my performances.

"It was difficult for me as I started to have offers from big clubs."

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