"One of the main reasons why we got involved with Arsenal was what brought Arsène up and down the field," he said in the statement. "Its longevity and consistency over such a long period at the highest level will never be achieved."
Wenger joined the club following a coaching practice in France – the club nodded in its headline statement to his French heritage, "Merci Arsène" – and Japan. It was a kind of revolution in the way the club played and in the approach to training, a fact that was widely recognized beyond the house in North London.
"Arsene Wenger built the best teams I've played against in English football" Phil Neville, a defender who played for England and Manchester United, one of Arsenal's top rivals, said on Twitter . "The team of 98 was amazing."
"The biggest compliment is that he played football, which made us change the way we played against them," he continued. "He deserves the most incredible farewell of all in the coming weeks."
Wenger was the coach of the "Invincibles," the Arsenal team that ended the 2003-04 season undefeated. In the early and mid-2000s, probably the culmination of Wengers tenure, the club was praised for its fast-paced and attractive style.
Alone from 2002 to 2005, Wenger led them to the FA Cup, the most important domestic club knockout tournament, three times, as well as two Premier League titles. Arsenal also made it to the 2006 Champions League final before beating Barcelona.
But as other teams – notably Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal's bitter rival from North London, Tottenham Hotspur – gained in importance, Arsenal began slowly
Wenger is by far the longest-serving Premier League coach. Thanks to his success, he developed an enormous reservoir of goodwill, but many fans were frustrated with what they considered a series of mistakes: the club never won the Champions League, it was less likely to win the Premier League every year, and he did not seem willing to keep up with high-spending clubs.
The polarized fans created a somewhat venomous atmosphere around the club, and Wenger, who often cut an abandoned and tense figure on the sidelines, seemed to award so much by making a plea for unity in his statement.
"I urge our fans to stand behind the team to end on a high," Wenger said in the statement. "For all Arsenal fans, take care of the values of the club."
The club, which has played four games this season, said Wenger would stay for them. The club has also reached the semifinals of the Europa League, an intra-European competition.
Wenger's time at Arsenal coincided with an explosive interest in top English football. In the two decades since then, the Premier League has become the most commercially successful football league in the world through some measures.
Their clubs are now owned by billionaires and conglomerates who come from countries as far away as Russia, Thailand and the United States United Arab Emirates. In fact, Arsenal is owned by an American whose company also controls American sports teams, including the Denver Nuggets of NB.A. and the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL
The transformation was so strong that, paradoxically, a manager with Wengers pre-Arsenal résumé would have almost no chance of being hired by a big club in today's Premier League
In February 2017, Ian Wright, a former Arsenal striker, gave a glimpse into the tribute Arsenal is fighting against Wenger.
Wright recalls an address given to Wenger at the Emirates Stadium, where Arsenal plays, in which he said he "came to the end" of his career.
"He was fine when we talked about how the kids were doing things like that," Wright told the BBC. "But when we started to talk football, it was like taking a deep breath."
Continue reading the main story