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Arsene Wenger: Timing of Arsenal departure ‘not really my decision’

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

It was announced on Friday that the Frenchman would 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.”

The 68-year-old said he would continue to work “for sure” in the future, but was not ready to commit to anything else “at the moment”.

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 captain Patrick Vieira and ex-Barcelona manager Luis Enrique.

Asked about the Spaniard, Wenger said: “I don’t want to influence the next manager, but of course I have a high opinion of Luis Enrique.”

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

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

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

Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the Champions League next season rest on winning the Europa League.

“This group of players deserve something special and I want to do it for them, to achieve something with them,” he added.

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

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