After almost 22 years in charge, Arsene Wenger has called time on his Arsenal reign.
[ MORE: WENGER’S DEPARTURE ]
Wenger, 68, announced on Friday that he will be leaving the Gunners at the end of the current 2017/18 campaign despite having one year remaining on his contract.
Here is the statement from Wenger in full which was posted on Arsenal’s website with the heading “Merci Arsene” taking center stage.
“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,” Wenger said. “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.”
The Frenchman is a man who revolutionized the Premier League when he arrived in 1996 and he will be remembered as a bastion of attractive, possession based soccer as his Arsenal team of the 2003/04 season, dubbed the “Invincibles,” will always be remembered for going through an entire PL season unbeaten en route to winning the title.
Wenger has won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven community shield trophies during his time in charge of Arsenal, as well as leading them to 20-straight seasons finishing in the top four of the Premier League and 19 qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
That run ended last season as they finished in fifth and in the past few seasons there have been fan protests with “Wenger Out” or “Wenger In” dividing the fanbase.
However, Wenger’s tenure can end on a high in the Europa League as Arsenal face Atletico Madrid in the semifinals and he is essentially three wins away from returning Arsenal to the Champions League.
Wenger has so far managed Arsenal for 1,228 games with 704 wins in all competitions. His final game in charge will be the Europa League final in Lyon, if Arsenal get there. But his final Premier League game in charge of Arsenal will be away at Huddersfield Town on May 13.
The focus will now switch to who will take over from Wenger this summer with the likes of Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti, Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Tuchel all linked with the job.
But in the more immediate future the final few weeks of the 2017/18 campaign in England will turn into an appreciation of Wenger and all he has achieved over the last two decades in charge of Arsenal.