Arsène Wenger will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, bringing to an end a trophy-laden but also increasingly fractious 22-year association between the Frenchman and the club.
Arsenal made the surprise announcement on Friday morning and after Wenger had informed the squad of his decision during training before their home match against West Ham on Sunday.
Wenger signed a fresh two-year contract extension last summer and while there was speculation the 68-year-old would leave halfway though that deal, few thought confirmation of that would arrive before the conclusion of the current campaign, especially with a Europa League semi-final against Atlético Madrid to come.
“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,” said Wenger in a statement posted on Arsenal’s website.
“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. My love and support for ever.”