Frank Arnesen to leave Chelsea at end of season

Chelsea sporting director Frank Arnesen will leave at the end of

the season when his contract expires, the second member of the

English champions’ off-field team to announce this month that he is

departing.

The 54-year-old Dane said Saturday that he wants to ”seek a new

challenge” having spent six years at Chelsea after being lured

from Premier League rival Tottenham.

Assistant coach Ray Wilkins left Chelsea in apparent acrimonious

circumstances when the club decided on Nov. 11 not to renew his

contract, which was due to expire at the end of the season. Wilkins

is now taking legal advice.

Arnesen said leaving was ”entirely my decision,” but Chelsea

is considering using the former Denmark international’s exit as a

chance to restructure the club away from the pitch.

Arnesen arrived at Chelsea in 2005 to help build the academy and

youth system. He was promoted to sporting director in the 2009

offseason, working closer with the first team as it went on to win

the Premier League and FA Cup in May.

”We have a great crop of young players now coming through and I

feel it’s the right time for me to start looking towards a new

challenge,” Arnesen said in a Chelsea statement. ”The past two

years I’ve worked more closely with the first team as sporting

director, and it has been a joy to work alongside Carlo Ancelotti

and this exceptionally talented squad and staff.

”I’m looking forward to continuing my work here until such time

as the club decides which way they want to move forward. With that

in mind, I wanted to make the decision now, giving the club plenty

of time to make the necessary plans for the end of the

season.”

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said Arnesen had discussed his

future with him several times during the past year.

”His decision comes as no surprise to us,” Buck said. ”Frank

has done an exceptional job here at Chelsea over the last six

years, and the incredibly strong academy and youth system Frank

leaves behind him is a fitting tribute to his time at Chelsea.

”We do appreciate that he has given us plenty of notice, which

gives us time to consider whether and how we restructure the

football department.”