Wenger went years having to balance the books, before being able to splash tens of millions on the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette - and none of them brought Arsenal close to the Premier League title.
The 58-year-old is a world-class manager who has constantly proven himself at the top level throughout his career, winning titles at elite clubs like AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. "He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks". That dichotomy perfectly captures the split, even schizophrenic, nature of his two decades at the club.
Vieira has just entered his third season as manager of New York City FC, part of Manchester City's network, and it had looked for a while that the former Arsenal midfielder would one day replace Pep Guardiola.
Arsenal added that a successor to Wenger will be found "as soon as possible". But the rangy powerhouse midfielder would come to define Arsenal's golden period under Wenger around the turn of the century as the beating heart of his teams. Arsenal's limitations in the Champions League were particularly galling, with Wenger unable to lead his side beyond the last 16 from 2011-17.
But after winning the 2005 FA Cup, they waited another nine years - or 3,283 days - for their next silverware.
"He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played and preparation for games".
The lack of Champions League silverware in the Arsenal trophy room will be something Wenger would wish to change when he finally leaves his office at the club's London Colney training ground. The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. Their players are very largely not the problem as much as the acceptance of mediocrity.
But perhaps the most remarkable achievement of his long reign was going through a full league season unbeaten in 2003-04, with his "Invincibles" playing a captivating brand of fluid football.
"Now is the time for every Arsenal fan to get behind the team".
Arsenal went on to seal the double with a 2-0 FA Cup final victory over Newcastle United, Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka scoring at Wembley. The second half of Wenger's tenure (from 2006 to now) was nowhere near as good as the first.
"Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man", the Chelsea midfielder commented. There were reports that Wenger might have quit had Arsenal lost the final; instead he signed a new three-year deal.