English Premier Club Arsenal, in a surprise statement on Friday, confirmed that Arsene Wenger will step down as club manager at the end of the season, drawing to close almost 22 years at the helm.
English Premier Club Arsenal, in a surprise statement on Friday, confirmed that Arsene Wenger will step down as club manager at the end of the season, drawing to close almost 22 years at the helm. “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 in a statement released by the London-based football club. Wenger had signed a fresh two-year contract extension last summer and even though there was speculation that the 68-year-old would leave before the signed period, not many fans were expecting this news to arrive before the end of the current campaign, especially with a Europa League semi-final against Atlético Madrid to come.
Wenger, who led the club to the double in his first full season in charge, said that he was 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,” he said.
The Frenchman also thanked Arsenal fans who have always stood behind their team. “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,” he said.
Wenger was a relatively unknown name when he was signed by Arsenal but became a revolutionary figure with his sophisticated methods to the preparation and well-being of players as well as tapping into the overseas market to sign relatively unheralded players such as Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit who turned out to be world-class talents.
Under Wenger, Arsenal played some thrilling football and had an unprecedented Invincibles campaign in 2003-04 when they won the title without losing a single game. Two years later, Wenger took Arsenal to the Champions League final where the club lost to the Spanish giants Barcelona.
In last few years, Arsenal have failed to replicate these performances, putting Wenger on the fire line.
The fans were also left frustrated after losing some key players like Cesc Fàbregas, Robin van Persie and Alexis Sánchez on a regular basis to their rival clubs. Last year, the club also finished outside of the top four for the first time under Wenger’s reign and missed out on a Champions League spot.