Arsene Wenger Resigns: English Soccer's Longest-serving Coach Stands Down from Arsenal After 22 Years

Tributes have been made to Arsene Wenger after the announcement that he will step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season following 22 years in charge.

The Frenchman, who won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during his reign in North London, made the announcement in a statement on Friday morning.

"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 said.

Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League and only have the Europa League to compete for this season, which would see them qualify for next season's Champions League.

Wenger departs from the club a year before his contract was due to expire, having signed a two-year extension last summer.

Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke described it as "one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport."

"His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched," Kroenke said in a statement.

"Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude."

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, April 15. LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty

Paul Merson, who was at Arsenal when Wenger arrived in 1996, said the coach had a vast knowledge of footballers across the planet.

"He knew every player in the world. He could see a player, he knew every player in the world. He has been caught up by the internet and that is the problem Arsene has," Merson told Sky Sports.

"I just hope the stadium is packed for the last game to pay him the right respect."

Merson's teammate and captain Tony Adams, who won the Premier League twice with Wenger, described the Frenchman as the greatest manager the club has had.

"Thanks for everything Arsene," he wrote on Instagram. "Move over Herbert [Chapman], Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal manager."

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville credited Wenger for his impact on English football and the Premier League, stating that teams had to change the way they played to face Arsenal.

"Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football," he wrote on Twitter.

"The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks."

Wenger's Statement in Full:

"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.

I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.

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.

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."