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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger quits after 22 years in charge

  • There are still five games to go for Arsenal in the Premier League, but a huge focus for them is now on the Europa League, the continent's second-tier club competition.
  • Arsenal is preparing for the first leg of its semi-final against Atletico Madrid on Thursday.
  • The prize on offer is not only a European trophy, which eluded Wenger when they lost on penalties in the final to Galatasaray back in 2000, but also a route back into the Champions League — Europe's top-tier competition — for whoever the new manager at Arsenal next season will be.
Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger during a Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St.James' Park on April 15, 2018, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Serena Taylor | Newcastle United | Getty Images
Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger during a Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St.James' Park on April 15, 2018, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

After almost 22 years in charge of English Premier League team Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has chosen to step down as manager at the end of the season, despite having another year to run on his current contract.

Upon making the announcement the Frenchman said: "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. 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."

There are still five games to go for Arsenal in the Premier League, but a huge focus for them is now on the Europa League, the continent's second-tier club competition. Arsenal is preparing for the first leg of its semi-final against Atletico Madrid on Thursday.

The prize on offer is not only a European trophy, which eluded Wenger when they lost on penalties in the final to Galatasaray back in 2000, but also a route back into the Champions League — Europe's top-tier competition — for whoever the new manager at Arsenal next season will be.

That's now all on offer for the club this season, after appearing again to fall behind their domestic rivals in the Premier League, where Arsenal is currently down in sixth position.

Overseeing the move from its former home of Highbury to the Emirates Stadium and keeping Arsenal competitive is arguably one of Wenger's greatest achievements and until this season he managed 19 consecutive Champions League appearances.

Wenger inherited a famously solid back five in 1996 including goalkeeper David Seaman, Tony Adams and Nigel Winterburn and added to them with Sol Campbell at the turn of the Millennium.

It was his attacking recruitment in the early part of his Arsenal career in particular, which had an incredible hit rate and included Patrick Veira, Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry. Wenger helped to turn them all into eventual World Cup winners and in the case of Henry the club's record goalscorer.

Arsene Wenger during an Arsenal Press Conference at Sheremetyevo Airport on April 11, 2018, in Moscow, Russia.
David Price | Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Arsene Wenger during an Arsenal Press Conference at Sheremetyevo Airport on April 11, 2018, in Moscow, Russia.

Three Premier League titles, but none since 2004 and seven FA Cups make him Arsenal's most successful manager ever, not to mention the famous "Invincibles" side of 2003, when Wenger guided his side to an unbeaten 38-game season.

Rival Manchester United's troubles have been well documented after manager Alex Ferguson left, after his 27 years in charge. No league titles since Ferguson's last in 2013 and already onto its third manager since that time, something that Arsenal's sometimes maligned hierarchy will be looking to learn from.

There's little doubt that given the amount of control Wenger has displayed during his time at the club that he won't have some say on who his successor is, with more than a few candidates around Europe who might be interested.

Former Borussia Dortmund Head Coach Thomas Tuchel, had been widely tipped to be headed for Paris Saint-Germain, but with Wenger himself now possibly available for them, the German could be diverted to the Emirates.

Carlo Ancelotti is the most successful living manager in European football and he still hasn't found a new club, following his departure from Bayern Munich earlier this season.

The timing of Wenger's praise for the management credentials of his former captain Vieira could also be pertinent as well. He's been learning the coaching side of the game over in America at New York City FC (who incidentally are owned by Manchester City's City Football Group). Asked just prior to his announcement about Vieira, Wenger commented: "He works in the moment in New York and he works for Man City. He's a guy who has the potential one day, yes."

When he first arrived in England, many papers in the country led with the headline "Arsene Who?" Although he leaves with Arsenal below its North London rivals Tottenham in the table, he leaves with everyone in football knowing exactly who he is now.