Arsene Wenger: Arsenal boss says timing of exit announcement 'not my decision'

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Wenger says timing of departure announcement 'not really my decision'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the timing of the announcement of his departure from the club after nearly 22 years "was not really my decision".

It was announced on Friday that the 68-year-old Frenchman will leave the club at the end of the season, despite having a year left on his contract.

Speaking before Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid, Wenger said: "I focus on what I have to do every day.

"At the moment, I work like ever."

Wenger added he would continue to work "for sure" in the future, but was not ready to commit to anything else "at the moment".

He was responding to a question from a German journalist who wanted to know why he was "quitting at this moment, before a big game".

Later on Wednesday, Wenger moved to clarify he did not have an issue with the timing - just that it was not his decision.

"After reaching agreement about my departure, I was happy for the club to decide when to announce. I wish to make it clear the timing of the announcement was right," he said.

Arsenal have won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, including the Double in 1998 and 2002, under Wenger.

'I have a high opinion of Enrique'

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique won the Champions League, two La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey three times with Barcelona

A number of managers have been linked with replacing Wenger, including former Gunners captain Patrick Vieira and ex-Barcelona manager Luis Enrique.

Asked about the latter, Wenger said: "I don't want to influence the next manager, but of course I have a high opinion of Luis Enrique."

Arsenal have said a replacement will be announced as soon as possible, while chief executive Ivan Gazidis said the club must be bold in their search for a new manager.

Thursday's match will be the final time Wenger takes charge of the Gunners for a home European tie.

Their hopes of reaching the Champions League next season rest on winning the Europa League.

"Is there a perfect goodbye? I don't know. I just want to do as well as I can," Wenger said.

"This group of players deserve something special and I want to do it for them, to achieve something with them.

"My biggest satisfaction would be to be successful with the players we have."

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