Arsenal - Usmanov: 'Henry 'Pushing Me' To Buy Arsenal'
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Usmanov: 'Henry 'Pushing Me' To Buy Arsenal'

Uzbeki steel magnate and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has claimed that ex Arsenal striker Thierry Henry is backing him to take the club over. For some time, Usmanov has been buying up shares with the ultimate aim of holding a controlling share in Arsenal, but his 30% stake is comfortable gazumped by majority owner Stan Kroenke, who owns 2/3 of the club`s shareholding outright.

In an interview with L`Equipe, Usmanov claimed frustration that he has been portrayed as "a pirate" by Arsenal`s current ownership, but that he had an Arsenal legend in his corner. "'I like many footballers, and I'm in contact with some of them. Perhaps my favourite of the last ten, 15 years is Thierry Henry. He's pushing me to buy all of Arsenal's shares, but I cannot predict the future,' the Uzbek-born billionaire told L`Equipe.

'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.'

Usmanov went on to claim that Arsene Wenger is being handicapped by the current owner, "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.'

He finished by suggesting his interest in Arsenal was an emotional one rather than dictated by finance, a connection he says was forged by the Arsenal side of the late 90s, 'In my opinion, that team was as good as the current Barcelona side,' Usmanov said. 'It wasn't a question of money or prestige. It's a choice [to invest in the club] dictated by my emotions, those provoked in me by the club. And Arsenal's current situation remains an interesting investment.

'I would like to be useful for the club, and I can be. I understand football well, and can prove it, but I'll never force myself on anyone. For the moment, Arsenal don't seem to need me. But I remain convinced that Arsenal should have only one aim in every competition: first place and winning.

'All other theories are hypocrisy aimed at covering up weakness. I'm a strong man. If someone needs my help, my money, my know-how, anything I possess, I'm always ready.'

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday January 28 2013

Time: 11:03AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Well that's an interesting sounbite. Though one that is transpartntly trying to butter the fans up. I don't know whether he genuinely wants to help the club or just to make a quick buck (remember his comments a couple of years ago about wanting to make good money from Arsenal?), but he's a ghastly human being. I wouldn't want him near my club.
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28/01/2013 11:32:00

Rocky7 - agree he's tryng to butter the fans up. Using Henry's name, trying to give the impression that he wants to throw money at the club without actually saying so, talking about an emotional connection... To me, the most worrying thing about this man is how desperately he wants control of Arsenal. This statement is full of the usual lies and half-truths. And the board don't portray him as anything - he talks a lot more about them than they do about him, and at least they have never been uncivil in public statements - unlike Usmanov. Oh, yeah, and if he's been a fan from the 1990s, how come he couldn't name any of the Invincibles team to journalists he was wining and dining?
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28/01/2013 11:52:00

Isn't this just a reworking of the L'Equipe interview a couple of months back when he said that Henry should have a role in the club along the lines of Vieira's at City? In any case it's an appeal to the stupid. So the club should match the wages that City are paying should they? But presumably only if they're prepared to borrow money from the shareholders but not the shareholders that got paid well as they're no longer shareholders. He knows football well he claims but the 1998 side was not only better than the 2002 or 2004 Arsenal sides but better than the current Barca side? He knows football well but thinks we lost Vieira because of salary differences? He's a deluded fantasist. He's right about one thing though - the club doesn't need him.
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28/01/2013 12:07:00

He's also right though in Wenger's achievement of having created 2 teams. Our current one and the one now playing for our varied rivals.
Wyn Mills
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28/01/2013 14:11:00

Were ManU really created by RVP? Did they really have nothing else going for them apart from the one player they bought from us? Were Chavs made by Cole. Would City really be dramatically weaker without Clichy, Nasri and Toure? Typically superficial Usmanov comment intended to take in the gullible.
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28/01/2013 14:38:00

I think the point being made was that if you put together the players we've sold over the past 4-5 years they would constitute a pretty decent team.
Wyn Mills
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28/01/2013 14:57:00

The same applies to players we've bought from other clubs too! Nasri wasn't exactly created by Wenger was he. It's a silly sound bite point that doesn't stand scrutiny.
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28/01/2013 15:12:00

So you disagree with the view that Wenger has had to virtually create a second team in the time he would have hoped to be bearing the fruits of the first?
Wyn Mills
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28/01/2013 15:16:00

*benefiting from*
Wyn Mills
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28/01/2013 15:17:00

I think Wenger has had to create several teams in his time as manager as have our rivals. It's true we've been stripped by the predatory nature of football primarily post Abramovich/Mansour and changes in player contract law but don't expect guidance from Usmanov as to how to cope with those changes and the changes to come. He just wants to play in the billionaire's casino using AFC as his chips.
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28/01/2013 15:30:00

And Kroneke doesn't?
Wyn Mills
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28/01/2013 15:32:00

Not only Kroneke even Kroenke isn't playing billlionaire's poker either. So far every play he's made is looking to build an enduring business. He seems to be more about building the stake money.
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28/01/2013 15:49:00

hahahaha...Arsenal are the best run club in the league from an economic perspective...Go out and spend £500m and there is still no guarantee you'll be challenging for the league...The grass isnt always greener folks...#letsgetreal
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28/01/2013 16:00:00

What are the chances of Usmanov buying a share from Kroenke - a billionaire married to a multi billionaire and a guy who hasn't sold a single share in any of the clubs he owns? Negligible. Usmanov knows that he cant get control of Arsenal by just throwing money at Kroenke. Unrest at Arsenal fuelled by supporters is the only scenario under which Usmanov will have a chance to control the cub. Hence his strategy has been simple - put the management under duress and on the defensive on any issue he can. Buy support in the press against Arsenal's austere ways in the transfer market, use player departures as a stick to beat the club with, compare the club's spending with that of clubs backed by Oligarchs and Oil states. All in all its very clear that it is in Usmanov's interest that Arsenal do badly. Its up to the club management and the manager to fight this assault over and above their regular management duties.
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28/01/2013 18:02:00

Bang on, Deltaforce! Usmanov and his people have analysed fans' gripes and got themselves a list of hot-button phrases to use in this latest pile of nonsense.
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28/01/2013 18:38:00

Usmanov is Russia's richest man though, what could he possibly need from Arsenal? (Except for challenging Abramovich). I'm selfish, if Usmanov took over Arsenal I could see Neymar in an Arsenal shirt. Not a lot would make me happier than to see Neymar tomorrow pulling on an Arsenal shirt.
Arsenales F.C
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28/01/2013 20:14:00

Good post Deltaforce. It's pretty obvious what Usmanov is doing, especially dragging Thierry Henry into it. However, that doesn't make his comments about us being a selling club less valid. He intimates that he would have kept our best players and paid them what they would earn elsewhere, and bought from the top shelf. That's pretty easy to say, but would he have done so? I think yes he would have, for a few years anyway. It's all conjecture. Most supporters are virulently against him because . . . rumours of criminality? Nobody trusts a sweaty man? Who knows, but very few who don't use the term 'AKB' seem to support him. (aside- anybody who uses the term 'AKB' is a brainless *****in' ********). anyway, I was trying to make a point, what the hell was it. Oh yeah - if Usmanov had won control of the club, had poured piles of money into it, and as a result we won the league and Champions League, would we whine and say 'that's not the Arsenal way' or be ecstatic? I'd guess the latter.
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29/01/2013 06:09:00

If we were to do the same thing as Chelsea and City and essentially play fantasy football in real life, there is no doubt that the sheen will be taken away from our achievements in the future. We are starved of success of late and having been served with fabulous success rfrom 1998-2005 it feels like being weaned away from a very powerful drug. It kills to think how much work still needs to be done to get back to the halcyon days and sometimes a short term fix like an oligarch in charge who delivers success through personal investment feels fine. When the mind regains control, it just feels wrong and undeserved. Looking closely at Chelsea fans you just notice very paranoid people - scared that their benefator would leave them and fearful at the same time of his next blunder on the managerial appointment front and player acquistion front. Its better to be us than them. The grass is not greener from my poit of view.
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29/01/2013 07:06:00

I think many of us would find some way to defend a sugar daddy if that were how the club was being run and we were winning trophies. It would still look like Arsenal Football Club even if it didn't feel like it. Supporters of Lance Armstrong no doubt felt good when he was winning trophies too. Usmanov is a particularly shady character though and the fact that he has never taken the opportunity to defend himself against Craig Murray's pretty detailed accusations in court should give pause for thought. But even if they were proven in all honesty many would dismiss that if we were buying trophies for a while. The shame is that football has allowed competition to become as distorted as it has. Some method of equalising resources between teams while rewarding them for investment in the club still needs to be perfected if it's to be something of a sporting competition.
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29/01/2013 09:04:00

Good posts Amos and Delta. Agree with them both. I like to think that should Usmanov ever gain control (god forbid) that I could stand by the morals I have now. I'm not sure if I could simply walk away from Arsenal but I would certainly feel like it. Usmanov is not someone we need in our club.
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29/01/2013 09:40:00

How slimy of him to try to cater to the fans' and bringing in Henry into it too. Says a lot about him, really. There is a reason he is so desperate for control and it looks less about footballing reasons than a mere ego trip which will not augur well for the club as soon as he gets bored. If he did take over, I guess we will still be Arsenal fans but no different from the fans at Chelsea, whose present emotions Delta has given a very true description of. I don't want to feel that way, tbh.
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29/01/2013 09:53:00

Would Usmanov be able to avoid pathetic displays at the like of Norwich, Villa, Bradford? Would he be able to sort out our abysmal set piece defending?
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29/01/2013 09:54:00

How could he do that SW? If Wenger has £70M sat in the bank and he's going spending it how would an additional £200M help? Not to mention with the FFP coming in his oil-money would be worthless to us anyway. We'd just be left with a greasey scumbag owning our club.
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29/01/2013 10:07:00

Yeah Naija, must be a nightmare winning all those trophies and being champions of europe, makes me sick to the stomach thinking about the possibility of that.
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29/01/2013 10:07:00

I didn't say he could - that's kind of the point i'm making.
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29/01/2013 10:08:00

**and he's not spending it
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29/01/2013 10:08:00

Ah sorry, I getcha!
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29/01/2013 11:07:00

Shewore, I wouldn't want to feel like I am at the mercy of a Billionaire's whims and "hire and fire; hit and miss" decisions. Of course, as a fan, I'll enjoy the pleasure of some bragging rights, but when it comes down to brass tacks, you know the philosophy had to change to get those trophies.
Report Abuse
29/01/2013 15:51:00

You can't believe what you read in the papers it seems. Or perhaps Usmanov has woken up to the notion that he's being made to look a bit silly.
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31/01/2013 12:42:00


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