Usmanov Says Arsenal Is Good Investment, Not Selling His Shares

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov said he plans to retain his almost 30 percent stake in London’s Arsenal soccer club because it’s a good investment.

“Why do I need to change my status, which gives me major benefits, from the investment side and my enjoyment of the club,” he said in interview today with Bloomberg in Saint Petersburg. “I enjoy the games.”

Stan Kroenke, an American who also owns the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams, took control of the north London club in 2011 after acquiring stakes owned by two former board members. The American hasn’t put Usmanov nor his business partner Farhad Moshiri, the club’s second biggest investors, on the board.

Usmanov has criticized Kroenke for not spending money on players and allowing captains Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie to leave in recent years. The billionaire said he wouldn’t dictate strategy at Arsenal should he be able to take control.

“I can’t dictate,” he said. Even “if I had the possibility, it’s not my style.”

The Daily Mirror today said that Arsenal will make Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain its record signing, agreeing to pay the Argentinian 130,000 pounds ($201,000) a week. The Gunners still have to complete a deal with the Spanish club, and may end up paying about 22 million pounds for the player, the newspaper said.

Arsenal has been reported to have 70 million pounds to spend on new players. Usmanov said Arsenal’s spending is “good news if it happens. I’m happy if it occurs.”

Usmanov said coach “Arsene Wenger is the last great coach of last decade together with Alex Ferguson.”

Still, Wenger “must” win a trophy this year, he said.

Arsenal, a 13-time English soccer champion, finished in fourth place in Premier League, a place behind Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea.

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