Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis says Arsene Wenger is a managerial ‘giant’ and replacing him will be their ‘biggest challenge’.
The Frenchman recently celebrated 18 years in charge of the north London giants, making him by far and away the longest-serving boss in English football.
During his time at the helm, Arsenal have collected three Premier League titles, five FA Cups and graced the UEFA Champions League final.
He has also overseen the move from Highbury to Emirates Stadium, cementing the club’s standing among Europe’s elite.
It has not always been smooth sailing, with Wenger’s transfer policy called into question on a regular basis in recent times, but he remains among the best in the business and Arsenal know finding a successor will be tough – having watched on from afar as rivals Manchester United have struggled to fill the void created by Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
Gazidis told the club’s official website: “So much of the attention on a football club is around an individual and that’s very understandable at Arsenal because we have a giant who’s managing us.
“Arsene has been a fantastic driver and has put the club in a great, great position.
“The biggest challenge we’re going to face as a club is that, when the transition from Arsene to the next manager of our football club happens – and I don’t know what that’s going to be – that we come through that strongly.”
Gazidis is confident that Arsenal will get a decisive call right, with Wenger having laid the foundations for the club to continue competing alongside the world’s best – with an FA Cup triumph in 2013/14 bringing to an end a nine-year wait for major silverware.
He added: “Winning the FA Cup was a fantastic moment.
“In my life, that’s one of my greatest moments. The moment you get away from the euphoria of the moment, the next question is, ‘How do we have more of that?’
“We want this football club to be at the top of the world’s game. If the manager believes in someone like Mesut Ozil, he can buy him. It’s the same with Alexis Sanchez.
“Underneath that tip of the iceberg, those star signings that we talk a lot about, there’s an awful lot else going on. Our youth development, for example, is going to be the foundation of this football club going forward.
“Where we are currently is off the shoulder of the world’s top teams. I don’t think we’re at that level yet, but that’s where we’re aiming to get to. We want Arsenal to be in that elite group of football clubs around the world.”