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Usmanov likes Wenger vision

29 Nov 2013 23:01:55

Usmanov likes Wenger vision

Uzbek billionaire and Arsenal's second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov is in no doubt manager Arsene Wenger can begin a "new era" and take the club back to being "number one."

The Gunners currently top the Barclays Premier League ahead of Saturday's trip to Cardiff and are on the verge of qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League following the midweek win over Marseille.

Wenger, who turned 64 last month, has been offered terms on an extension to his lucrative £7.5million deal past the end of the season.

As yet, though, that remains unsigned, with the French coach insisting now was not the time to focus on anything other than continuing the drive for a first trophy since 2005.

Usmanov - whose Red and White Holdings company has some 30 per cent of Arsenal's stock but no seat on the board - has never been afraid to voice concerns over the direction of the club, and last year wrote an open letter criticising what he saw as too prudent an approach within the self-sustaining business model.

Arsenal smashed their transfer record with the £42.5million signing of German playmaker Mesut Ozil, which Usmanov feels is a step in the right direction.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Usmanov said: "I never said anything bad about the club or somebody personally. I said what, in my view, we can do - not better - but more effectively. I continue to keep this right for me.

"If I am [a] fan, if I am [a] shareholder and my team is in position number one, of course I am very happy. I hope this result keeps on until the end of the season. I wish this [for] my club.

"The club and team demonstrate Arsene Wenger's capacity to be number one. This is Wenger's responsibility and his vision.

"He does not every time have the possibility to solve this. Now I think he has this possibility and we support every effort to make our club [the] best.

"In the past I tell the club that if they want to pretend to be number one in every tournament then they must have best players in the world, and if we don't have them in our squad we need to buy these in the market. Wenger confirmed this by buying, for example, [Mesut] Ozil.

"I don't think somebody heard me but in any case anything that gives to Arsenal, good results, is for us very good news. This is our mission and hope.

"We wait - I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. It's most important for football, winning trophies. We will be number one."

Arsenal are owned by American Stan Kroenke following his successful multi-million takeover in 2011.

There are several other Premier League clubs with overseas investment, from Chelsea to Manchester United and Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Fulham.

Usmanov does not see that as detrimental to the future of the English game.

"It's an artificial question which somebody wants to put on the table. Everyone who has legal right to buy something can perform this right," he said.

"We have Kroenke, [Aston Villa's Randy] Lerner, many, many people and now many Asian owners. I think everyone is comfortable if the club are successful.

"If the club are not successful then, of course, everybody wants to find somebody guilty."

Usmanov added: "I'm sure it is good [for English football]. When investors come and invest in the economy, in British football, it is a big part of the entertainment economy in the United Kingdom.

"What's bad?"


PA

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