ARSENE WENGER was sacked by Arsenal after losing the support of owner Stan Kroenke.
SunSport can reveal that Wenger does not want to leave the club he loves and has been forced out under pressure from the US owners.
Arsenal announced his departure yesterday morning and have agreed to pay him £11million — the final year of his salary — as severance when he leaves this summer.
The Gunners are desperate to get back into the Champions League and hope the announcement will galvanise disaffected fans before their Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.
Club board members and Wenger were all singing from the same sheet yesterday.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis heaped praise on Wenger for his incredible 22-year service which delivered three titles, seven FA Cups and that amazing Invincibles season in 2003/2004.
Gazidis would not be drawn on the conversations which led to the Frenchman’s imminent departure.
But Wenger, 68, is understood to be unhappy and frustrated at both the speed and timing of the departure with a Champions League place via the Europa League still up for grabs.
A carefully-worded statement was released by Arsenal and Wenger hours before Gazidis spoke.
In it, Wenger said: “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.
“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.”
Gazidis said: “The decision had to happen at some point.
“I don’t think the club has ever been better prepared for it. Now it’s time to look forward. He leaves us in a very strong position to look forward.”
Wenger called his staff early yesterday morning to inform them of the decision and the players were called into training early.
A meeting at 9.45am was the first that Gunners stars knew of the decision, just two days before their clash with West Ham on Sunday.
The ‘Wenger Out’ section of the Gunners fans finally got their way but Arsenal still have important games to come as the manager will be desperate to end by delivering Champions League football again.
He added: “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 forever.”
It left current and ex players delivering fitting tributes to the club’s long-serving manager as fans were split on his departure.
Wenger is understood to not want to retire and is likely to open talks with French clubs PSG and his former club Monaco over next season.
A director of football role could be available at PSG, due to Wenger’s relationship with the Qatari family who own the Ligue One outfit.
Arsenal are now searching for a successor after bringing Wenger’s 22-year association with Arsenal to a close.
Juventus chief Max Allegri remains a top target and they have already spoken with former Barcelona chief Luis Enrique.
Brendan Rodgers wants the job and Celtic last night stated they would allow their manager to talk to Arsenal if the call came.