Arsenal to Wenger: Quit or you will be sacked

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Arsene Wenger has brought the curtain down on his 22-year Arsenal reign after the club’s powerbrokers won their battle to dethrone the Frenchman.

The manager confirmed on Friday he will walk away at the end of season after weeks of speculation about his future.

But Sportsmail understands Wenger was pushed into the decision after it was made clear to him that he would not be in charge next season.

The club’s board have grown increasingly dissatisfied with Wenger’s performance over the past two years and especially given this season’s poor Premier League campaign.

Even the side’s successful run to the Europa League semi-final has failed to quell the belief that Wenger’s time is up.

One senior Arsenal source said ahead of last week’s 2-2 draw at CSKA Moscow that the run was all ‘too little, too late’.

Wenger has been well aware of the lack of support from the club’s hierarchy in recent weeks but held on to the hope that winning the Europa League would enable him at least to see out the final 12 months of his contract.

It became clear this week he was fighting a losing battle. To all intents and purposes, Wenger has been dismissed rather than walked of his own accord.

Tellingly, when asked whether he tried to persuade Wenger to stay, chief executive Ivan Gazidis replied: ‘I don’t want to get into all the discussions that went on. The decision is made.’

Sportsmail exclusively revealed in February that Wenger was set to leave before the start of next season due to the growing lack of support from inside the club.

Wenger has always been able to count on owner Stan Kroenke’s backing during turbulent recent seasons, the US tycoon rubber-stamping a two-year extension at the end of last season when other members of the board felt his time was up.

The fact Wenger has chosen to walk away could be indicative that even Kroenke, and his son Josh — who has taken a more hands-on role at Arsenal in recent months — have lost faith.

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Wenger reportedly accepted his fate on Wednesday, informing Gazidis of his decision. Gazidis informed his fellow board members the following day.

Wenger arrived at the club’s London Colney HQ at around 8am on Friday before calling his backroom team into a 9am meeting, where the manager informed his staff.

His backroom team were shocked by the news. Wenger called the players into a meeting room just before 10am where he broke the news to his squad. The club officially confirmed Wenger’s departure at the team meeting.

Wenger is said to have been visibly emotional as he addressed his players and, speaking of the Europa League, told them: ‘Let’s win this trophy.’

After Wenger’s speech, club captain Per Mertesacker spoke to the players. The squad have since made a pact, even exchanging text messages, to ensure they do all they can to ensure Wenger goes out on high.

News of board discussions about Wenger’s future following the 3-0 loss against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final in February filtered through to the players. Likewise, sources claim that Gazidis, during a meeting with staff, made clear that a ‘significant change’ was afoot.

Wenger provided players with an indication last month as he informed them of ‘big changes for all of us this summer’ if their form did not improve.

Wenger, it is understood, is minded to continue working and a role with Paris Saint-Germain is a possibility as he is close to the club’s Qatari owners.

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