April 25, 2018 / 1:36 PM / 25 days ago

Timing of Arsenal departure not my decision, says Wenger

(Reuters) - Arsenal boss Arsenal Wenger said on Wednesday that the timing of his departure from the Premier League club after nearly 22 years in charge was not his decision.

Soccer Football - Europa League - Arsenal Training - Arsenal Training Centre, St Albans, Britain - April 25, 2018 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during training Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

The north London side announced last week that the 68-year-old would leave the Emirates at the end of the season, despite having one year remaining on his contract.

“The timing wasn’t really my decision,” the Frenchman told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid. “For the rest, I have spoken about it already.”

Wenger had come under sustained pressure from supporters to bow out after a string of disappointing results.

Arsenal, who are sixth in the domestic standings, can still qualify for next season’s Champions League by beating Atletico and going on to win the Europa League.

“Is there a perfect goodbye? I don’t know,” Wenger added. “I want to do as well as I can... This group of players deserve something special and I want to do it for them and achieve it with them.”

Wenger said he would keep working in football beyond this season but did not specify whether he would take another managerial role.

“Honestly, I don’t know what I will do,” he said. “Will I take a little rest? I will continue to work, that is for sure. At the moment, I’m not ready to commit to anything else than to give my best for Arsenal football club.”

Arsenal’s Ukrainian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss Thursday’s first leg at the Emirates, while Mohamed Elneny is out for the remainder of the season with an ankle ligament injury.

(This version of the story corrects nationality of Mkhitaryan in final paragraph)

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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