​Arsenal academy manager and former defender Per Mertesacker has admitted that the players were to blame for the departure of legendary boss Arsene Wenger. 

The iconic French boss left his post after 22 years in charge of the ​Gunners, despite having a year left on his contract at the Emirates which he had always insisted he would see out. 

However, chant, banners and post-match discussions calling for Wenger to leave on a weekly basis near the end of his hugely successful reign seemed to force the 68-year-old to resign early. 

Speaking to Spox (via ​football.london), Mertesacker said: "It was a bit surprising for us. He came into the meeting and said that he had decided together with the bosses to leave at the end of the season.

Huddersfield Town v Arsenal - Premier League

"It was a sad moment because I had the feeling I contributed my share to it. His farewell was also the players' fault because we had many chances to get better results.

"We failed while he backed us all the time. I was the first who felt the need to say something and said I deeply regretted it. It was important for him to see that we had something to say as a team and that we stood by his side."

Arsenal v Chelsea - The Emirates FA Cup Final

The former Germany international, who retired from football at the end of last season, was asked his opinion on the timing of Wenger's exit, to which he replied: "Not a second too early or too late. 

"When the news of his departure was finally out, the atmosphere changed.

"It was said what a great man he was, who changed this club extremely. You could not have had more success with this team. He got a deserved farewell and left this club as a legend."