Football

Aaron Ramsey: Arsene Wenger’s departure extra motivation for Arsenal to win Europa League

Aaron Ramsey is determined to give departing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger the perfect send-off by winning the Europa League.

Last Friday, the Gunners announced Wenger would be leaving the club after almost 22 years and, if Arsenal can navigate their way through two legs of a semi-final with Atletico Madrid, the first at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, his final game will be to contest the Europa League final in Lyon next month.

Wenger has never won a European competition and, more pressingly for the club, can secure the club Champions League football this season if they go all the way in the tournament.

Ramsey, bought by Wenger in 2008 and nurtured by the Frenchman over the past decade, admits the announcement of his departure was a “massive shock” to him and his team-mates, and wants to leave a lasting tribute to the manager by giving him one last trophy to lift.

He said: “It’s a massive motivation, to put the emotional side to one side and use it to go on and win this trophy for him.

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“It’s going to be weird next season when he’s not here but for now he is, and we have to finish the season off as strongly as possible. You’ve seen with the amount of fans that turned up on Sunday, and the noise they produced when they got right behind the team, and hopefully they can give him the send-off he deserves.

“We all sort of knew that one day he was always going to step down as manager, and that day has come and it was a massive shock to the team.

“But we have to put those emotions behind us and use it as motivation as well to finish off the season strongly, and hopefully we can lift something for him and let the other emotions come in after that when the season is finished. Then we’ll go from there.”

Mikel Arteta has been tipped as one of the names in the frame to replace Wenger at the Emirates, having previously been Arsenal captain and more recently serving under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

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Ramsey stopped short of saying it was too soon for Arteta – who has no managerial experience – to take over as Arsenal manager, but suggested he still learning his trade at the Etihad, having only retired from football in 2016.

“Mikel was a fantastic player for Arsenal and a great captain,” he said. “He’s been under Pep Guardiola there, he was always interested even when he was playing here in going into a coaching role one day, I’m sure he’s learning a lot about the game and especially the way Man City have been playing.

“They’ve done fantastically well, so I’m sure that one day when the time is right, he’ll be a fantastic manager. It’s still early days in his career at the moment.”

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