Kroenke insists Arsenal still have an aura

Kroenke insists Arsenal still have an aura

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke believes the club’s activity in the summer transfer market shows they still have an “aura”.

The Gunners, despite public protests at the Kroenkes’ ownership, spent north of £100m (€109.5m) in bringing Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, William Saliba, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, and David Luiz to the Emirates Stadium.

Kroenke admitted the club’s transfer policy required a dramatic rethink after last season’s second-half capitulation to Chelsea in the Europa League final condemned them to another year outside the Champions League.

But Kroenke — the son of owner Stan — says the Gunners will have turned heads since.

“This summer, even though we weren’t in a position of strength coming out of Baku, I think there were a few people caught off guard that Arsenal Football Club still has the aura it does,” he told BBC Sport. “We’re excited to keep pushing that now and into the future.

“I think we had a very strong summer. We addressed certain areas on the pitch for this season and in the years ahead. We had certain age profiles that we were after.

“Without Champions League football we weren’t exactly sure, but I encouraged our football operations department to be aggressive and when Arsenal Football Club knocks on a player’s door it’s a different knock.

We knew we wouldn’t have Champions League football and that’s what those type of talents are after.

“My main message to Vinai (Venkatesham, managing director) and Raul (Sanllehi, head of football) coming back from Baku on the plane and then throughout meetings all day the following day with them and Unai (Emery, head coach), was, ‘Let’s be aggressive and find out what’s possible’.”

The Kroenkes received strong criticism from supporters over the summer, but Josh said their transfer activity was not a response to shut fans up.

“I would say that if you’re reacting and doing club record signings based on public opinion, you’re not going to go very far as a club,” he added.

“We weren’t reactive this summer, we were actually proactive. It was unfortunate that the summer unfolded publicly the way it did with some of the supporters’ groups. I tried to answer some of their concerns to the best of our ability.”

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Paying tribute to Emery, who replaced long-serving manager Arsene Wenger in May 2018, Kroenke said: “I think he’s doing a great job — has done a great job and is doing a great job.

“Turning the page from such a legendary manager and figure as Arsene — not only at Arsenal but in European football — was always going to be a difficult page to turn and as a club I think we’ve turned it as elegantly as we could.

“I think Unai’s daily approach is fantastic. He’s out there on the pitch, he’s working, he’s watching video, he’s communicating and his daily energy and devotion to his work is fantastic — it’s exactly what we need.

“Challenging for the Premier League title is always our goal, that’s what we talk about constantly. Based on the strength of our league, which is the greatest in the world, if you’re competing for the Premier League title, you’re competing elsewhere for other silverware as well; whether that’s the FA Cup, whether that’s European silverware. We want to go for it all.”

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