Arsenal 'needs Arsene Wenger', claims billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov

Billionaire shareholder Usmanov believes Wenger should be allowed 'the opportunity to plan the succession process and leave his legacy'

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The Independent Football

Arsenal’s billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov believes the club must keep Arsene Wenger as manager despite the threat of missing out on their best chance to win the Premier League title since 2004 going begging.

Fans have begun to lose patience with Wenger and the majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, for their side’s perceived on-field failures this season. Having been knocked out of all three cup competitions, Arsenal sit third in the league table, 11 points behind leaders Leicester City with a game in hand.

But rather than join the growing chorus for Wenger to move on and an era of change brought about at the Emirates Stadium, Usmanov has backed the Frenchman, and believes the club “needs” him to remain in charge next season as he enters the final year of his contract.

"Arsenal’s results are stable. They are always among the leaders of the English Premier League,” Usmanov said in an interview with Rossiya24. “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 - manager Arsene Wenger.

“Failures have been haunting Arsenal for many years now, they cannot become the EPL champions. This has led to some discontent with Wenger's position as a manager.

“I believe that 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 football club to maintain the principles that were established by those people who created its victories. Arsenal needs Arsene Wenger.”


Arsene Wenger is under pressure to win the Premier League title (Getty)

Fans have resorted to displaying banners and signs calling for Wenger and Kroenke to leave in the wake of a run of fixtures that produced one win in eight matches and an alarming five defeats – including elimination from both the Champions League and FA Cup.

Usmanov has been critical of Wenger in the past for not bringing enough success to a club of Arsenal’s stature, but his support is a notable change in his approach that could afford Wenger more time as manager before deciding to leave or retire.