5 August 2014 08:07
Arsenal are ready to compete for trophies on all fronts, according to the club’s second-highest shareholder Alisher Usmanov.
Arsene Wenger’s men ended their nine-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup last season, defeating Hull City 3-2 after extra-time in the final.
Arsenal were also close to claiming their first Premier League since 2004, before faltering dramatically to finish fourth behind champions Manchester City.
But with Arsenal following on from last year’s big-money deal for Mesut Ozil to sign Alexis Sanchez, Usmanov – who owns just over 30 per cent of the club – is confident the London-based outfit can enjoy a sustained period of success.
“I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. That is most important for football,” Usmanov told the Telegraph in an exclusive interview ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield showdown with City.
“In my opinion, in line with the existing rules, the club has the correct decision-making process in place, including their selection policy, especially now, when they have the means to buy the best players.”
Confidence is high within the Arsenal squad after their triumph at Wembley but the Russian billionaire said success could have come a lot quicker, had they adopted a different strategy to fund their move from Highbury to Emirates Stadium in 2006.
Arsenal’s switch to the Emirates came at a cost with stars Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Alexandre Song sold as the club attempted to balance the books.
“The board and main shareholders chose the debt option at the time, which led to Arsenal going almost 10 years without winning a domestic title or the Champions League,” the 60-year-old said.
“The first trophy only arrived in the 10th year. As a result of this choice, they were selling players and were unable to buy top players.
“These difficulties have now been overcome and the team is in a good state; the club’s finances are in order and I believe that Arsene Wenger and the club’s CEO [Ivan Gazidis] will manage them correctly.”
Arsenal kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on August 16.