Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has paid tribute to Arsene Wenger with a lengthy and effusive statement after the manager announced his resignation at the end of the season, ending one of the longest managerial reigns ever seen in the Premier League With Arsenal.
Struggling in sixth in the Premier League and facing a win-or-bust Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid, Wenger has announced that he will leave the club next month, ending his 22-year reign and departing a year before his contract was due to expire.
The announcement sparks the biggest upheaval in Arsenal’s history since they moved stadium during Wenger’s reign, and owner Kroenke released a statement along with Wenger to honour his time with the club, adding that it was his presence as manager that persuaded the American billionaire to first invest in Arsenal back in April 2007.
“This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” Kroenke said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène 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.
“Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude.
“Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.
Kroenke will now face the task of replacing Arsenal’s most successful and longest-serving manager, and hope to avoid the same slump that Manchester United suffered when Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger’s biggest rival over the course of his career, retired back in 2013.
“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game,” Kroenke added.
“We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.”
The early favourite to succeed Wenger is the former Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, although with the German understood to be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain to replace Unai Emery, the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Patrick Vieira are being touted as Wenger’s potential successor.