After almost 22 years at the helm of the club, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has announced he is leaving, one year before his contract was due to end.
After almost 22 years at the helm, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has announced he is leaving, one year before his contract is due to end.
“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," he said Friday in a statement.
“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."
Business entrepreneur Stan Kroenke, who owns a majority stake in the Gunners, said of Friday's announcement: “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 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."
The 68-year-old Frenchman is the longest-serving manager of Arsenal, having joined the English club in October 1996. His appointment followed stints on the French Riviera and Japan, where he coached AS Monaco and Nagoya's Grampus Eight in the eighties and nineties.
Wenger has been credited with revolutionising pre-match preparation and football training, and for discovering French superstar striker Thierry Henri and midfielder Patrick Vieira.
He is also Arsenal's most successful manager to date, with three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup wins. He oversaw the team's "Invincibles" period from the 2003-4 season, when his team scooped the League trophy without a single defeat in 38 games.
But in recent years he has frequently faced questions about his future due of a lack of silverware.
Arsenal suffered their 11th loss on Sunday in the Premier League this season, and are currently 33 points behind champions Manchester City (87).
Their defeat to Newcastle United this weekend was their fifth straight loss in a Premier League away match: their worst streak in the Premier League era.