Arsenal finally brought a trophy drought that spanned nearly a decade to an end last season. Now one of the club's main shareholders is speaking out with a focus on making sure the championship celebrations occur far more frequently moving forward.
Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph passed along comments from Alisher Usmanov, who currently holds a 30 percent stake in the Gunners. He's bullish on the club's outlook as it prepares to enter what he considers a "new era."
"The club is very well placed to succeed," Usmanov said. "I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. That is most important for football. 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."
The Russian billionaire doesn't speak out about the club often. The report states it was his first newspaper interview about the side in three years. He also admitted there still haven't been any conversations with Stan Kroenke, the club's other large stakeholder.
Since he doesn't talk publicly about Arsenal often, it carries a lot of weight when he does. Clearly, expectations are on the rise among those with direct involvement with the club, and now it's up to Arsene Wenger and his team to deliver.
Going nine years without raising a trophy isn't an acceptable stretch for a side with Arsenal's history and financial backing. Usmanov told The Telegraph he believes the previous ownership's handling of the Emirates Stadium construction was a major factor in the title drought, but it's no longer a concern.
Meanwhile, the Gunners' spending over the past handful of years highlights that ability to bring in top talent.
This summer the club has already signed Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy. They join a group that includes Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla as high-profile signings over the past two years.
The additions come after a period during which the transfer windows often ended in disappointment at the Emirates. The arrivals often didn't meet the expectations of the diehard fanbase.
That said, Usmanov's comments show winning an FA Cup isn't enough to satisfy the brass. Wenger must continue to build on that success, and additional marquee signings to further upgrade the squad are an essential part of the process.
It makes Arsenal's reported pursuit of Sami Khedira and William Carvalho interesting.
Lee Hurley of the Metro reports both defensive midfielders are squarely on the Gunners' radar, but there are no signs either deal is imminent. He notes that Khedira's return to training with Real Madrid points toward an ordeal that could go right down to the wire:
Arsenal are still being heavily linked with a move for Real Madrid's German midfielder Sami Khedira in a transfer saga that shows no signs of being concluded any time soon.
The reason it will be intriguing to track the efforts to sign Khedira or Carvalho is because it harkens back to those previous transfer struggles. Reports would come out about a couple notable names, the fans would get worked up and when nothing happened, there would be some heat on Wenger.
Obviously the longtime boss has enjoyed more success in recent years. That paired with last season's trophy is enough to give him some breathing room, but that only lasts for so long. He needs signings like one of those defensive midfielders to prove Usmanov right.
All told, following a period many Arsenal supporters would probably like to forget, things have been trending in the right direction for the past two or three years. But now the club has reached a key turning point as it looks toward the future.
Usmanov sounds convinced they are in a position to emerge as a major contender in Europe with the financial hurdles now a thing of the past. A few more big signings could put them on that path, but another long drought could be right around the corner if things don't go according to plan.
The pressure is on at Emirates Stadium. The next few summers, including the rest of the current one, will decide which direction the club goes with the trophy drought now behind them.
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