After 22 years at the helm, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, currently the longest-serving manager in the Premier League, will exit the London club at the end of this season.
The club has issued the following statement:
Arsène Wenger has issued the following statement:
“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season.
“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.
“I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.
“I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.
“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high.
“To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club.
"My love and support for ever.”
Majority owner Stan Kroenke said: “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.
“Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.
“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game.
“We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.”
Arsène will lead the team to the end of the season and we will make an appointment as soon as possible. The club will not be making any further comment on the selection process until an appointment is made.
The now 68-year-old Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996 after the dismissal of Bruce Rioch. He's since won three English Premier League titles and seven FA Cups. His 'Invincibles' side went a whole league season unbeaten in 2003-04 and reached the Champions League final in 2006 where they lost in dramatic circumstances to Barcelona.
Praised for his knowledge of the game as well as his faith in his own brand of attacking football, Wenger's Arsenal side in the early noughties was perhaps the most entertaining to have ever played in the Premier League. Under Wenger's stewardship Arsenal not only challenged for the title, and more recently, Champions League qualification, year-after-year, but also moved from their previous Highbury home to the modern and far larger Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal are in the Europa League semifinals this year, so perhaps Wenger can go out on a high by claiming a European title with his club at long last. They have their work cut out for them, however, as Atletico Madrid await them in the 2-leg encounter. Atleti coach Diego Simeone is also sure to be named in the context of succeeding Wenger, which will add another element of intrigue to the encounter.