Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has rejected rumours that he is on the brink of selling his 30 per cent stake in the club and investing in rivals Everton instead.
The idea was first floated on the fan website Arseblog, which suggested that the Uzbek-born Russian billionaire, who has been a vocal critic of both Arsene Wenger and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke in recent seasons, was fed up with his lack of influence at the club. The report added that he might be tempted to sell up and throw in his lot with his former business partner Farhad Moshiri, who took a 49.9 per cent stake in Everton earlier this year.
However, a spokesman for Usmanov has responded by stating that he "does not intend to sell his stake in Arsenal", and added: "Mr Usmanov continues to be committed to Arsenal and considers his stake in the Club as a long-term investment for his family and future generations."
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Moshiri was originally a backer of Usmanov's Red and White Holdings, the company that owns his Arsenal stake, but he sold up earlier this year and used the money to buy into Everton, where he is "now considered the major powerbroker in a more ambitious era for the Merseyside club", reports City AM.
The optimism at Goodison Park is in stark contrast to the mood at the Emirates, where an opening day defeat to Liverpool compounded the anger of fans after another summer that has seen the Gunners miss out on some big name transfers.
"Rumours regarding Usmanov's possible exit come amid significant Arsenal supporter dissatisfaction at a perceived lack of ambition from the club's hierarchy, including long-serving manager Arsene Wenger," says City AM.
Although he is not hugely popular at the Emirates, Usmanov is viewed by some fans as the alternative to Kroenke, who is an increasingly unpopular figure who has done little to encourage Arsene Wenger to take the club forward.
Two years ago Usmanov voiced his discontent with the situation at Arsenal and said that Wenger needed to strengthen "every position" if they were to challenge for major honours.
"We just repeat the same results year by year. Quite high to secure the place in the Champions League but we regularly lose in the first circles of play-offs. As an investor I am not happy with that," he said.
Since those comments in November 2014, Arsenal have signed four senior players: Gabriel Paulista, Petr Cech, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka, and won the FA Cup once.
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