VIDEO: ARSENAL ANNOUNCES THAT WENGER WILL DEPART AT THE END OF THE SEASONDate: 2018-04-20
After nearly 22 years at the helm, Arsene Wenger is to leave Arsenal at the end of this season.
"I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years," said Wenger. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.
"To all the Arsenal lovers, take care of the values of the club."
Stan Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder, described Friday's announcement as "one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport".
He added: "One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene 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."
Kroenke said Wenger "transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played".
Wenger is the Premier League's current longest-serving manager, appointed on 1 October 1996, taking charge of a record 823 games.
But some fans have turned on the Frenchman in recent seasons as a result of their poor league performances and he departs a year before his latest contract is due to expire.
Last season was the first time since Wenger joined that the Gunners didn't place in the EPL top four, thus knocking them out of automatic qualification for the Champions League.
Now, they are currently sitting sixth on the log – 14 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham – and, with only five matches remaining, will likely miss out on a top-four spot again this term.
This means that they must win the Europa League to go through to the Champions League next season. They are up against Atletico Madrid – who are sitting second in Spain's La Liga – in the semi-finals, with the first leg on Thursday.
A brief history
Wenger won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups in his first nine seasons in charge and, in 2003-04, became the first manager since 1888-89 whose team remained unbeaten for an entire English top-flight season.
A year later, in 2005, they won the FA Cup, but it took an astonishing nine more years – or 3,283 days – before they claimed the silverware again when they won the FA Cup in both 2014 and 2015. Wenger's claimed the cup seven times after beating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley last season.
In 2006, Arsenal moved into the £390m Emirates Stadium after leaving Highbury, but Wenger's side struggled in Europe after losing to Barcelona in the Champions League final that same year. Since then they were eliminated in the last-16 stage in seven successive seasons. In 2017, their last appearance in the competition, they lost on aggregate to Bayern Munich by a whopping 10-2 margin.
What's on everyone's lips now though is, who's next?
Wenger has said former Arsenal midfielder, Patrick Vieira, "has the potential" to succeed him while former Borussia Dortmund manager, Thomas Tuchel, has already been linked with the job.
Tuchel is the favourite with the bookies at the moment, while Germany boss, Joachim Low, and former Real Madrid, AC Milan and Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, are also on the cards.
Arsenal fans will be waiting with baited-breath as Kroenke adds, "We have high ambitions to build on Arsene's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game."
A successor will be appointed "as soon as possible".
Check out the video below from ArsenalFanTV for responses on the news.