Arsenal’s turbulent week descended into civil war on Thursday after the club’s second biggest shareholder launched a withering attack on primary owner Stan Kroenke.
Less than 24 hours after captain Robin van Persie revealed his intention to leave the Gunners with a statement questioning the club’s ambition, Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri – who own close to 30 per cent of Arsenal shares through investment vehicle Red and White Holdings – criticised the Kroenke regime.
In a strongly worded five-page open letter addressed to the Arsenal board, Usmanov and Moshiri claim what they view as Kroenke’s lack of investment has led to:
* the loss of the club’s best players
* Arsenal signing second-rate stars
* the club no longer being able to challenge for trophies
An extract from the letter read: “As a consequence of this (Mr Kroenke’s) policy, which is dressed up as prudent financial planning, it is down to our manager, and not our shareholders, to have to deal with the club’s tight finances, carry the burden of repaying the stadium debt by selling his best players and having to continue to find cheaper replacements.
“This policy is leading to the loss of our best players, often to our main competitors, and even causes the players themselves to question their future at the club and the club’s ambitions.” The letter continued: “It appears a place in the Champions League will be the pinnacle of our ambition again next season.”
Usmanov and Moshiri’s attack plunges the club into further controversy after Van Persie confirmed he would not be signing a new contract. While Red and White Holdings have no major influence at the club due to the fact they have not been granted a place on the Arsenal board, Thursday’s letter turns up the heat on Kroenke and the club’s hierarchy as the prospect of another summer of losing their prized asset looms.
Manager Arsene Wenger has not given up hope of persuading Van Persie to change his mind and is planning a heart-to-heart meeting with the striker when he reports for pre-season training in around 10 days. But there is a feeling at the Emirates Stadium that Van Persie’s position is untenable after he admitted he does not agree with the club’s direction.
As Sportsmail revealed Thursday, both Manchester clubs will battle it out for Van Persie’s signature in the coming weeks. City would prefer to off-load one of their strikers before committing to a move for the 28-year-old – but with talks over Emmanuel Adebayor’s permanent move to Tottenham progressing well, that problem could soon be solved.
Juventus remain in the running to sign Van Persie despite holding talks with Napoli forward Edinson Cavani and remain confident of luring the Holland striker to Italy.
Sportsmail understands Arsenal’s scouting team will hold a meeting at the club’s London Colney HQ at the start of next week to discuss the prospect of replacing their skipper. Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetic and Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski were both watched by the scouts last season and will be on the agenda.
Van Persie is keen to have his exit finalised by the time the club’s Asia tour kicks off on July 24.
It is understood that he would rather not be included in the squad that flies to Malaysia as it would delay his pending move.
But Wenger is unlikely to take a lenient view on him missing the trip.
Meanwhile, Theo Walcott could become the next big-name player to depart. Like Van Persie, the England forward is in the final 12 months of his contract but the club have yet to call him in for talks over a new deal.
Chelsea are monitoring the 23-year-old’s situation.
* Arsenal have postponed their pre-season trip to Nigeria for a year. They were due to play a match in Abuja on August 5, but will not play next month ‘as a result of complexities linked to the planned game’. – Daily Mail