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  1. ITV Report

'I feel it is the right time for me to step down' - Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has announced he will step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season.

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."

The 68-year-old's position has come under intense scrutiny recently after Arsenal failed to finish in the top four last season for the first time in his 22 year tenure.

The three-time Premier League winner hoped his fortunes would improve this season, however after another failed campaign it appears the Frenchman has taken the decision to jump before being pushed.

In a statement on Arsenal.com he wrote: "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."

Arsene Wenger signed as Arsenal manager in 1996. Credit: PA

He added: "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."

He has lifted the FA Cup three times in the last four seasons but has not won a Premier League title since the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003/04.

Arsene Wenger and captain Patrick Vieira led Arsenal in their unbeaten 2003/04 league campaign. Credit: PA

In a press conference on Friday, Ivan Gazidis, chief executive of Arsenal, paid tribute to the manager.

"He has transformed the beautiful game and made Arsenal famous throughout the world for the style of football we play.

"The foundations of this club have never been stronger."

When asked if a replacement to Wenger is already in mind, Gazidis said the process will start today but the focus at the moment is only on the announcement of Wenger's departure.

Hopes for any success this season rest solely on the Europa League, however the prospect of winning that was clearly not enough to keep the ex-Monaco boss at Arsenal.

For the past few seasons the Arsenal boss has faced "Wenger Out" banners at the Emirates, but calls for his departure intensified at the end of last season after failing to reach the Champions League.

Wenger has won three Premier League titles including the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003/04 however he has recently faced calls for him to quit. Credit: PA

Despite the growing negativity Wenger signed a new two-year deal with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge.

That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly crowned champions Manchester City.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was "surprised" at Wenger's announcement, adding: "He's had a fantastic career, an outstanding personality and very successful. He was always a big role model and it will be different without him."

Arsene Wenger's final season in charge has seen disappointments in the Premier League campaign. Credit: PA/EMPICS

Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who has also faced fierce protests over his running of the club, hailed the "unparalleled class" of the outgoing boss.

He said: "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."

He added: "He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played."