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.''