Arsenal's billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov has said it is his "dream" to have a controlling stake of the north London club, and revealed his ambition to sign Barcelona forward Lionel Messi in an exclusive CNBC interview on American television.
The Uzbek businessman's Red and White Holdings company currently owns 29.9 per cent of the Premier League outfit, with Stan Kroenke currently the leading shareholder with 66.7 per cent.
Usmanov indicated his desire to have more power, but stressed that he would be reluctant to interfere with Gunners matters that are not his speciality, in light of recent criticism from fans regarding the club's questionable transfer policy and failure to win a single trophy for the past seven years.
Arsene Wenger has been the main target of the Emirates Stadium faithful's frustrations, with some supporters calling for the Frenchman to end his 16-year stay in England. However, Usmanov gave his full backing to the 63-year-old, and even defended his summer sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
"Arsene Wenger is one of the best coaches in the world. He has overcome many difficulties over the past five years, and not had enough support from the Arsenal board to keep players, and sign new players in the transfer market.
"It was a mistake selling Robin van Persie, but Wenger clearly explained that he wanted to leave in an attempt to win trophies."
Usmanov was also quizzed hypothetically on what he would do with more boardroom power, and whether or not he would be willing to pay £100billion to bring Messi to England.
"My dream is to have a bigger stake in Arsenal football club. But we will wait, and see," he continued. "I think any club would pay any money for Lionel Messi. Particularly now, in today's climate. But, you cannot pay an enormous and unrealistic price."
Interestingly, Usmanov's comments come just days after Wenger shocked a host of journalists at last Friday's pre-Reading press conference by insinuating that Arsenal were preparing a bid for Barcelona's star man.
"We will buy Lionel Messi in January and we will surprise you," he joked. 'With Usmanov's money or Kroenke's money?' responded reporters, adding 'would you like some of Usmanov's money?'
"Look, I've always said the same which is that we want to produce the money from our own resources," concluded Wenger.
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