Alisher Usmanov: Arsene Wenger must stay on

Arsene Wenger remains Arsenal’s “main asset”, according to the club’s second largest shareholder, Alisher Usmanov.

Alisher Usmanov: Arsene Wenger must stay on

Wenger has been in charge of the Gunners since 1996, but has again found his position under scrutiny after going out of both the Champions League and FA Cup, while also falling off the pace in the Premier League behind Tottenham and leaders Leicester.

Usmanov, though, sees no reason to make a change just yet, and the Uzbek metals magnate, who does not hold a seat on the board at the Emirates Stadium, believes Wenger deserves the opportunity to decide when to call it a day.

In an interview with TV channel Rossiya24, Usmanov said: “I have increased my stake in Arsenal to above 30%, and became the second largest shareholder. Arsenal’s results are stable. They are always among the leaders of the English Premier League. This is a good and large sports business project, and I am pleased with it. The only thing is that today such situation occurred,

“Like in any sport, there are ups and downs. The club must retain its major symbol and main asset: Arsene Wenger.”

Despite that backing, Usmanov admitted the 12-year title wait has “haunted” the club and its fans. “Failures have been haunting Arsenal for many years, they cannot become English Premier League champions. This has led to discontent with Wenger’s position as a manager.

“I believe Arsene Wenger is a great coach, and Arsenal has to give him the opportunity to plan the succession process and leave his legacy when he deems it necessary. It is very important for the club to maintain the principles established by those people who created its victories. Arsenal needs Arsene Wenger.”

In previous seasons, Usmanov had hinted his impatience with Wenger’s reluctance to spend big in search of success.

In 2014, he said: “I like Arsene for his principles, but principles are a sort of restriction. And restrictions are always lost possibilities. That’s why sometimes, coaches even without principles became the coaches of great teams and some coaches with principles lose because some positions in team are vacant because of ethical, moral, or personal views.”

Arsenal, who are 11 points off top spot, but will host Watford when domestic action resumes on April 2.

Arsenal have again been linked with €40m-rated Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka, with Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, and Mathieu Flamini likely to leave the club in the summer.

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