Arsene Wenger claims that Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud made reluctant departures from Arsenal during the January transfer window.
With both men having slipped down the pecking order at Emirates Stadium, important decisions on their respective futures had to be taken.
Walcott ultimately decided that it was time for a fresh start at Everton following 12 years in north London, while Giroud crossed the capital to link up with Chelsea.
Wenger believes that the duo would have preferred to remain with Arsenal if their personal situations had been different, with ambition forcing them to look elsewhere.
The long-serving Gunners boss said on Walcott: “I always say that players who did fight for our shirt and fought for our club, you ideally want them to be respected.
“All our fans knew that Theo did not leave because he had any problem with Arsenal.
“It was just because he wanted to play and wanted to give himself a chance because he didn’t get enough games here.
“Today, people are informed and you don’t fool them. Theo is experienced, is a real Arsenal lover and is a guy who always respected the fans and the club.
“It was completely justified and I’m very happy that he got a great reception.”
Wenger added on Giroud: “Olivier is an Arsenal man as well.
“He left for similar reasons to Theo Walcott, by being sad to leave but also objective enough to analyse his situation.
“His professional career demanded that he moved, but his heart wanted him to stay.
“Both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud are similar cases on that front.”
Walcott has already made more Premier League appearances for Everton than he managed for Arsenal over the first-half of the 2017-18 campaign – netting two times in eight outings.
Giroud has not been quite so fortunate at Chelsea, with the 31-year-old striker often finding himself back on the bench, but he has made the latest France squad and remains in contention for a place at this summer’s World Cup.