Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he was surprised by Aaron Ramsey's decision to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of this season.
Ramsey is the latest in a growing list of high-profile players to run down their contracts and leave on a free, and while Wenger expects that trend to become more and more common in the coming years due to the financial benefits, he insists that Ramsey's decision had nothing to do with either money or a desire to leave Arsenal.
"In the case of Ramsey it is not a question at all of contract. Not at all. It was not a financial situation and not a desire for the player to leave as long as I was there. I was convinced that the player would stay - after [I left], I don't know - but it was not a financial problem and not a desire to leave problem. What happened after I don't know," Wenger told Sports Mole at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
"Why the players run out their contract is very simple - because the transfer market is so big now that they think that if I run out my contract, I may not get the full transfer [fee], but I will get a big part of it. Adding that to the inflation, it means that the financial incitement for the player is to run out his contract.
"We will see that more and more, because a good player today is between £50m-£100m. So if the player is not bought for that price then his interest is to run the contract down and say to the club who wants to buy him 'I don't want £50m, but I want part of it'."
Ramsey is currently in his 11th and final season at the Emirates Stadium, during which time he has made more than 350 appearances for the club.