Premier League football club Arsenal has confirmed that Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager will come to an end after 22 years in charge.
The news of Wenger’s departure follows a number of years of unrest among fans, as poor results, a lack of investment and a drought of major trophies soured the legacy that the Frenchman had built over the years.
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All his efforts haven’t been for nothing though. Set to retire from the dugout at the end of the season next month, Wenger will finally have the time to get to work spending the considerable fortune that he has built up over the years.
How Wenger’s contract has grown in 22 years at Arsenal
Football finances have changed considerably since Wenger took charge at Arsenal in 1996.
Back then, English goalscorer Alan Shearer was the world’s most expensive player, having recently completed a £15 million move from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United. Brazilian star Neymar broke the record in 2017 by switching from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in a £198 million deal that saw the record double in a day.
Wenger’s contract hasn’t been exempt from this growth. As reported by the Daily Mail, Wenger’s annual wage has increased from £500,000-a-year in 1996 to £8 million-a-year in 2018.
1996 – £500,000-a-year
Upon signing form the club as a relatively unknown figure in English football, Wenger was handed a three-year deal worth £500,000-a-year. Having guided French side Monaco to the Ligue 1 title in his first season with the club, Wenger had made a name for himself in his native country, but had yet to demonstrate that he could produce results in a tougher division.
It took him two seasons to claim his first trophy with the club. Arsenal finished the 1997/98 campaign and Premier League champions and also picked up the FA Cup.
1998 – £1.2 million-a-year
This saw the club hand their manager a new four-year contract worth £1.2 million a year.
Arsenal struggled to compete with a dominant Manchester United side over the next three seasons.
2001 – £2 million-a-year
However, with his contract soon to expire, Wenger was given another four-year deal in 2001 worth £2 million a year, despite failing to add to his trophy haul.
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Wenger rewarded the club with another Premier League and FA Cup double in the following season. He retained the FA Cup the following year and claimed a third Premier League title in the 2003/04 season.
The Arsenal team of that season would come to be known as The Invincibles, as they completed an entire Premier League campaign of 38 games without suffering defeat. This is unquestionably Wenger’s biggest career achievement. That Arsenal side remains the only side in Premier League history to have achieved this feat.
2004 – £2.5 million-a-year
Wenger was adequately rewarded with another new deal that would extend his stay at Arsenal for at least another few years. However, having reached his peak, it was down from here for Arsenal in terms of success.
The club’s undefeated streak came to an end and they conceded the Premier League title the following season. Winning the FA Cup for a fourth time under Wenger was some consolation.
However, the club would then go nine seasons without winning another trophy. Regardless, Wenger’s past successes carried him through what was a difficult period for the club.
2010 – £6 million-a-year
Between 2004 and 2014, when Arsenal broke their trophy drought, Wenger’s contract was extended and increased twice more, taking his annual earnings to £6 million-a-year.
With the club paying off the costs of the newly built Emirates Stadium, Wenger was given limited transfer funds to work with. Meanwhile, the club’s rivals, Manchester United, Chelsea and an emerging Manchester City side, were increasing investment.
Wenger’s departure seemed to be nearing by 2014 as pressure from fans to deliver trophies mounted. However, victory in the 2013/14 FA Cup ultimately saved Wenger and earned him another three-year contract extension.
2014 – £7.5 million-a-year
With the hope that Wenger’s decade of bad luck was over, the club decided against parting ways with Wenger who, by this point, had become the longest-serving manager in the Premier League.
Wenger was handed a new three-year deal worth £7.5 million annually. He rewarded the club with two FA Cup titles in three years.
However, performances in the Premier League didn’t improve. Despite finishing seconds in the 2015/16 season, Arsenal dropped out of the top four in the 2016/17 season, costing them their place in the following season’s Champions League and their share of the €1.3 billion prize pot that comes with it.
2017 – £8 million-a-year
For many, failing to qualify for the Champions League was the last straw, but Arsenal stuck by their manager.
Wenger was handed another new contract that would extend his stay for another two years.
Arsenal are currently sixth in the Premier League table, 14 points off of fourth-placed Tottenham with four games to play.
It is mathematically impossible for the club to qualify for next season’s Champions League via the Premier League. However, they can still qualify by winning the Europa League, having reached the semi-finals this year.
Yet, with Arsenal once again looking likely to miss out on the Champions League, Wenger has decided to give the fans what they want.
So how much has Wenger earned at Arsenal?
1996 to 1998 – £1 million
1999 to 2001 – £3.6 million
2002 to 2004 – £6 million
2005 to 2007 – £7.5 million
2008 to 2010 – £15 million
2011 to 2014 – £24 million
2015 to 2017 – £22.5 million
2017 to 2018 – £8 million