Arsene Wenger has stressed he remains committed to Arsenal but hinted he could yet walk away if he is unhappy with results in the run-in.
Wenger, who first took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and recently completed his 1,000th game in charge, had signalled that he would extend his reign after a season in which his team had appeared to be back challenging for the Premier League title.
The club’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, had also told the media in January: “Arsene will be extending with us, and at the right time we will make that announcement.”
However, Wenger has found himself under renewed pressure after a 6-0 defeat to Chelsea and 2-2 draw with Swansea City left the Gunners in fourth place, six points from the summit and now faced with concerns over their Champions League qualification chances.
The 64-year-old maintains that he intends to stay on at the Emirates Stadium, telling his news conference on Friday: “My commitment is not questionable. I have given my word and I always respect my word.”
However, when asked whether that meant he would definitely be in charge next season, he replied: “Yes, unless I decide otherwise. I have told you many times we have had no time to sit down and do it, but I want to have a feeling coming out of the season that I have done the maximum for the club. Let’s see when the season is over.”
The Times has reported that, while Wenger is set to remain at the club for the next two years, Arsenal are beginning to plan for life beyond his reign and are considering the likes of Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and Everton’s Roberto Martinez.
Wenger told the media that he would play no part in the selection of his replacement.
“I always said, and you can check that, everybody has his own job,” he said. “My job is to do well for the team, not to do anything else.”
Asked specifically if he would choose his successor, Wenger said: “No.”