File photo dated 07/01/2014 of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday May 30, 2014. Arsene Wenger has agreed a new contract to remain as Arsenal manager until 2017, according to reports. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire

Arsène Wenger has signed a contract to stay Arsenal until 2017 following the Premier League football club’s FA Cup final victory earlier this month.

The 64-year-old signed a three-year deal, meaning that he will have spent two decades at the north London club when it runs out. Mr Wenger is already the longest-serving manager in the football league, having joined Arsenal in 1996.

The Frenchman’s longevity stands out against his peers in English football’s top flight. The second-longest serving manager in the Premier League is Newcastle United’s Alan Pardew, who has spent just four seasons at the club.

Mr Wenger was credited with transforming English football, introducing innovative training methods and radically improving the diets of his players. He was more willing to rely on foreign players than his peers, becoming first manager to field a squad containing no English players in 2005 – something that is now a common sight in the Premier League.

During the first half of Mr Wenger’s tenure, the club won three league titles and four FA Cups between 1996 and 2005. But it took Arsenal nine years to win its next trophy as the club clamped down on spending on players and invested instead in building a new 60,000 seat stadium.

“We have gone through fantastic periods and also periods where we have had to stick together,” Mr Wenger said.

“Every time when that togetherness was tested I got the right response. I think I have shown some loyalty as well towards this club and hopefully we can make some more history. I am sure we can.”

Mr Wenger is now set to stay at the club, which has a market capitalisation of £1bn, until May 2017.

Stan Kroenke, Arsenal’s majority shareholder, said: “Sustained excellence is the hardest thing to achieve in sport and the fact Arsenal has competed at the top of the game in England and Europe throughout the time Arsène has been manager, is the ultimate testimony to his consistency of performance, talent and ambition.”

Twitter: @duncanrobinson

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