Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov has told L’Equipe
The present majority shareholder is United States businessman Stan Kroenke, but Usmanov revealed that he would have purchased overall control of the club earlier had he not been made to appear as an enemy to the current board.
“I like many footballers, and I’m in contact with some of them. Perhaps my favourite of the last 10, 15 years is Thierry Henry. He’s pushing me to buy all of Arsenal’s shares, but I cannot predict the future,” said the 59-year-old.
“When I had the chance to buy some shares and become one of the main shareholders in the club, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I was even ready to take total control. That wasn’t possible because certain people preferred to make a profit and create, using me, an outside enemy. I remain portrayed as a pirate, an enemy. They have won that game.”
New York Red Bulls striker Henry, claims Usmanov, has been in contact and is keen for the Uzbek-born billionaire to wrestle total control from Kroenke, though his estimated $18.1bn fortune could not be used to radically reshape Arsene Wenger’s squad due to current financial fair play regulations being enforced by UEFA.
It is believed, however, that under Usmanov’s control Wenger may be in more control of which players he is able to retain, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie having been sold by the club. Usmanov believes that current policies in place at the club in relation to player retention is not good enough, and implied he could seek to change that should he gain control of the club one day.
He continued: “For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world, but it’s not easy for him,” Usmanov said. “I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they’re needed.
“The best players, and not being satisfied with selling our best players to our rivals. If that happens, we can ask everything of him. But, today, he’s sacrificed. Because of the policy, and we’re all to blame. Everything’s in Mr Kroenke’s hands, and I hope he succeeds, even if he doesn’t go along with my ideas.”
He added: “The greatest achievement of Arsene Wenger is to have created two teams: the one that now plays for our rivals, and the one that is trying to be among the best in the Premier League.
“That’s why I say it’s not enough to merely flatter the coach, but to give him the possibility to buy the best players, superstars. But not just stars, but those chosen by Wenger.
“It’s unthinkable that the shareholders get well-paid while, for small clauses in contracts, we lose key players, symbols like Robin van Persie, Mathieu Flamini or Patrick Vieira. We should have increased their salaries when they started to be courted, started to look elsewhere. I don’t know why we didn’t propose that to them.”
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Arsenal v Liverpool