Wenger to coach next season, even if he leaves Arsenal

ROB HARRIS
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger covers his face prior to the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 soccer match between Bayern Munich and FC Arsenal in the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 15 , 2017. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Arsene Wenger wants to continue coaching next season, even if it's not at Arsenal.

The 67-year-old Frenchman's contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the season. He has yet to commit to extending a reign that began in 1996, saying a decision is expected by April.

"No matter what happens I will manage next season," Wenger said Friday. "Is it here or somewhere else? That's absolutely for sure."

The pressure has intensified on Wenger since a 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, leaving Arsenal facing a seventh straight elimination in the last 16. Arsenal has never won the European Cup and has not won the Premier League trophy since 2004.

"Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future," Wenger said. "That's part of it, you have to accept that. As much as it hurts to lose games."

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke told The Associated Press last year that the club is "all very high on Arsene," but sections of the fan base have been calling for Wenger to leave for some time.

"That's an eternal debate when you are somewhere for a long time and there is a big disappointment," Wenger said. "What's important is the club makes the right decision for the future."

Wenger maintained that he has had "many opportunities to go somewhere else" during his Arsenal career but was committed to the north London club, overseeing the move to the Emirates Stadium from Highbury in 2006.

"I care about this club and I care about its future and I think it is very important the club is always in safe hands," Wenger said. "Is it me or somebody else?"

Arsenal is fourth in the Premier League and next plays on Monday in the FA Cup against fifth-tier club Sutton in south London.

"I hate to lose games and I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility," Wenger said. "You do not stay somewhere for 20 years and you walk out after a defeat like that. ... It is difficult to take, but as well I have the strength and the experience to respond to that."