Wenger insists he was 'happy' with timing of departure announcement

Arsene Wenger insists the announcement of his decision to leave Arsenal was made at the right time.

The club announced last Friday that Wenger would step down in the summer after over 21 years at the helm.

The timing came as a surprise, with the Gunners still fighting to finish as high up in the Premier League as they can and with a Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid to contest.

The first leg against the LaLiga side takes place at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, the second time in five days Wenger has taken charge of a home match following the revelation he would leave.

On the eve of the tie, Wenger said "the timing was not really my decision" when asked why the announcement came when it did.

But in a statement released by the club later on Wednesday, the 68-year-old clarified that he had no problem with the timing.

"After reaching agreement about my departure, I was happy for the club to decide when to announce. I wish to make it clear the timing of the announcement was right," Wenger said.

With Wenger's long association with Arsenal coming to a close in a matter of weeks, he does not know how long he will spend away from the game before being ready for a fresh challenge.

Asked if he would have a period of reflection, Wenger said: "Yes, a little bit.

"I had no break for 35 years. In our job, you can look around, that doesn't exist. I don't know now how addicted I am.

"I am a bit like a guy who plays Russian roulette every week and suddenly has no gun any more. So, I will see how much I miss the gun."

Pushed on the subject, Wenger suggested missing an entire season may be too long away from the game, adding: "It's long, a year - 365 days. I don't know. I leave myself a little bit open and freedom to decide what I want to do with my life."

There have already been plenty of names linked with the task of filling the void which will be left by Wenger's exit.

One of those touted as a potential successor is Diego Simeone, the Atletico coach who will be looking to extinguish Wenger's last hope of ending his tenure with a trophy.

But the Argentinian was quick to distance himself from the post when he spoke on the eve of the first leg.

"No, I haven't spoken with anyone at Arsenal. I love it at Atletico," he said.

Asked for his opinions on Wenger, Simeone added: "The first thing that comes to mind is admiration.

"He is a fantastic coach and professional. He has amazing ability and that he has been able to remain at the helm of a club like Arsenal means he has had to reinvent himself many times."

- PA


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