Wenger's Arsenal era earns him high praise

AAP

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger announced on Friday that he will step down from his role at the Premier League club at the end of the season, after almost 22 years at the helm.

Wenger led the club to three Premier League titles, including going unbeaten for an entire season, seven FA Cups and took Arsenal into the Champions League in 19 successive seasons.

With the Gunners sixth in the EPL and 33 points adrift of the champions Manchester City, the 68-year-old decided the time was right to move on.

"I am surprised. It is his decision. I respect that. He is an influence in football. Had a fantastic career. Outstanding personality," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.

"It will be different. Maybe he will go somewhere else. I wish him all the best."

Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes was unsure if Wenger wanted to extend his managerial career beyond the Emirates.

"He was one of the top coaches in Europe. Maybe he will take over a general manager position but to work as a coach at another club I don't know if he wants it. I cannot imagine it. He does not need it," Heynckes told reporters.

"An outstanding career and he was a positive influence for English football with his philosophy and his style of play."

Wenger's transformation of Arsenal's playing style earned high praise.

"Arsene is not only the greatest manager in Arsenal's history, he has personally changed the face of the game in this country," Bob Wilson, former Arsenal goalkeeper, to BBC Radio 5 live.

Even former Manchester United defender Gary Neville was glowing in his assessment of Wenger.

"Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English football. The 98 team was amazing," he said.

"The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them."

Neville's former boss, the legendary Alex Ferguson, was equally effusive in his praise.

"I am really happy for Arsene Wenger," he said.

"I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that he has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves.

"He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man."

Former Arsenal midfielder and captain Cesc Fabregas thanked Wenger for his contribution to his career.

"Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship," he posted on Instagram:

"He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world."

David Seaman, a the long-serving Arsenal goalkeeper for Wenger tweeted: "Sad day for Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies"