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Arsenal expect golden era of titles and big spending

ESPN staff
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Arsenal's second-biggest shareholder Alisher Usmanov predicts a golden era lies ahead for the club and has backed Arsene Wenger to keep spending.

He praised Arsenal's approach in the transfer market this summer after the club spent more than £60 million on Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Calum Chambers.

Usmanov, the richest man in Russia with a fortune that rose to more than £11 billion in 2014, believes Arsenal are now in prime position to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2004.

Alisher Usmanov says he has never spoken to Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke © Getty Images
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"The club is very well placed to succeed," Usmanov told the Daily Telegraph. "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."

Arsenal's FA Cup triumph last season finally ended a nine-year trophy drought, however, Usmanov feels the club's strategy of balancing the books stopped them winning silverware sooner following the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.

Cesc Fabregas, then Arsenal captain, was allowed to rejoin Barcelona for £35m in 2011 before Samir Nasri joined Manchester City for £24m the same summer.

Robin van Persie, who had taken the armband from Fabregas, sealed a £24m to Manchester United the following summer with prompted Usmanov to express his "deep reservations" about the club's direction in an open letter to the board.

The £42.5m capture of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid last year signalled a change in approach, though Usmanov feels it should have come sooner.

"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," added Usmanov, who also revealed he has never spoken to Arsenal's majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke.

"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.

"I have no plans to exit. I wish Arsenal success and hope that they win trophies."

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