Wenger told Arsenal players of his departure ahead of club announcement
The outgoing Arsenal boss wanted to tell his players he was stepping down at the end of the season.
Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand.
The 68-year-old will step down as Arsenal boss at the end of the season after more than 21 years in the role.
The news was announced on Friday morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal.
Press Association Sport understands Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public by the club.
His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else.
Wenger’s surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference.
Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was “emotional” to find out that Wenger was set to depart.
“We have just been informed basically,” he told the club’s official website.
“It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I’m here is because of him.
“It’s been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now.”
The Frenchman praised his players and staff in the short statement he released through the club 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,” it read.
“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.”