Arsene Wenger shocked the football world on Friday morning by announcing his intentions to step down as Arsenal’s manager at the end of the season.
After 22 years, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, Wenger’s storied run in north London is going to come to an end.
Even Wenger’s biggest supporter will feel that Wenger has outstayed his welcome at the club.
He will always be credited for revolutionising English football following his arrival in October 1996, though.
“When he came in he changed everything. He revolutionised Arsenal,” David Seaman said on talkSPORT.
“He changed the way we played, our diet, the stretching routines we did… he did every single session himself so it was done properly.”
And so the hunt begins for Wenger’s replacement.
Enrique is an option
Former Arsenal players Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta have been mentioned in the running to succeed the 68-year-old, as have more experienced coaches like Luis Enrique, Carlo Ancelotti and Massimilano Allegri.
Enrique is currently on a sabbatical following his three-year stint as Barcelona boss, but his success - he won the La Liga title twice and the Champions League in 2014-15 - makes him an interesting candidate.
Arsenal have made informal contact with the 47-year-old, according to the Independent, but some at the club have been “scared off” by Enrique’s response.
The Independent’s report adds that Enrique has demanded a salary equal to that of Wenger - according to Goal, that’s £8 million per year.
That’s the price for a Champions League-winning coach - something Wenger was never able to call himself.
The news of Wenger’s impending departure surprised everyone but it does make a great deal of sense to announce it now.
Arsenal fans can give Wenger the send-off that he deserves and the club may have a replacement ready for the summer transfer window.
There’s also the hope that the announcement will galvanise the squad in the Europa League.
The sight of Wenger hoisting the trophy in Lyon in May would certainly be a fitting end for the coach.
And it would make for a rather nice statue to be placed outside the Emirates Stadium, too.
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