Arsenal 'must retain' Arsene Wenger as manager - Alisher Usmanov

Arsenal "must retain" under-fire manager Arsene Wenger past this season, according to shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who called the Frenchman the club's "main asset."

Fans have expressed their frustration with the Gunners doing just enough to stay among the top four contenders in the Premier League while crashing out of the FA Cup and Champions League, putting Wenger's 20-year tenure in jeopardy.

Wenger has another season on his contract that pays him £8 million a year, but Usmanov, who owns 30 percent of the club, has offered the 66-year-old his full support.

"Arsenal's results are stable. They are always among the leaders of the English Premier League. This is a good and large sports business project, and I am pleased with it," Usmanov told Rossiya24.

"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."

Usmanov acknowledged the banners that have been shown at the Emirates in recent weeks, with Arsenal 11 points behind leaders Leicester.

"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," he continued.

"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."

Usmanov has always said Wenger is a strong manager, though in 2014 he also said he was not happy the club have failed to build on their consistent top-four form.