Out with the old: Wenger confirms Arsenal to release three this summer

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Arsene Wenger will have to sign a handful of new players during the upcoming summer transfer window … right?

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I know, I know — we’ve said that every May for what seems to be going on a decade now, but this time he really has no choice. (OK, so we’ve also said that before.)

Why do Wenger and Arsenal really have no choice this time, you ask? Speaking ahead of his side’s season finale, against Aston Villa on Sunday (10 a.m. ET, on SYFY and Live Extra), Wenger confirmed the impending departures of three tenured leaders once each of their contracts expire this summer — quotes from London24:

“I believe that Mikel Arteta is the captain of the club and has been a great leader.

“All of these players will have to decide if they go on in their careers as a football player or a coach. Tomas Rosicky has been with us for 10 years and I think everybody loves him as well.

Mathieu Flamini has been an extremely stronger leader on the pitch and off the pitch. We lose three big personalities.”

Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky made 639 combined appearances (all competitions) across 22 combined seasons of service to the Gunners.

[ MORE: Premier League preview — 2015-16’s final day ]

Following their departures, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny will be the only central midfielders to make more than three first-team appearances this season, with the oft-injured Jack Wilshere having just made his 2015-16 season debut last month.