Arsene Wenger has been speaking about his Arsenal departure and there are some intriguing details emerging.
Wenger, 68, announced last Friday that he would be leaving Arsenal at the end of the current 2017-18 campaign after almost 22 years in charge.
But when asked about the timing of his decision during his press conference ahead of the Europa League semifinal first leg against Atletico Madrid on Thursday and whether or not that was helpful, Wenger said it was taken out of his hands.
“The timing was not really my decision, the rest I have spoken about already,” Wenger said. “I focus on what I have to do every day. At the moment, I work like ever.”
Wenger added that he will “for sure” continue to work beyond this season but wasn’t giving anything away on where he would go. The Arsenal boss also said he had a “high opinion of Luis Enrique” but that he didn’t “want to influence the next manager” of Arsenal with so many contenders mentioned as he also confirmed he will have no say on his successor.
What do we make of all this?
Wenger still has one more year left on his current deal at Arsenal and it appears he was keen to be in charge next season, but he could have simply been saying that he would have preferred an announcement at the end of the season rather than before a big European semifinal. His comments can be interpreted either way but many journalists in the room are all suggesting Wenger was talking about the overall decision to step down now.
The growing, and widely reported, notion that Wenger stepped down before he was sacked seems to be on point. After three Premier League titles and 10 major trophies in total in over two decades in charge, it appears Wenger didn’t get to decide when he called time on his Arsenal career.
The perfect end for Wenger at Arsenal would be to win the Europa League and then leave on a high, but these comments suggest the Frenchman may not be happy with some of the hierarchy at Arsenal.
These comments amid links to PSG and the French national team also suggest to rule out a role upstairs at Arsenal, at least for the foreseeable future, for Wenger. Intriguing times ahead.