Premier League

Wenger: Jack will win 100 caps

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Sat, 02 Mar 2013 23:10:00

An Arab consortium is considering making a ?1.5billion bid for Arsenal in the near future, according to reports.

The Sun on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph have both reported the interest, with funds for the bid said to be coming from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the next few weeks.

American Stan Kroenke is the club's majority shareholder, while Uzbek Alisher Usmanov also holds a significant stake.

The offer for Arsenal would reportedly see the potential investors bid around ?20,000 per share, making Kroenke's holding alone worth ?830million.

Sources close to the Arsenal board insisted on Sunday morning that there had been no approach, informal or otherwise, to Kroenke, who remains "in it for the long term".

Kroenke pushed through his ?430million-plus takeover in April 2011, and now holds 66.83% of the club to give him overall control.

The Kroenke Sports Enterprise Group has a history of sustained involvement in all of his sporting interests in the United States, which include the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL, as well as Major League Soccer club the Colorado Rapids.

Uzbek oil magnate Alisher Usmanov remains Arsenal's second largest shareholder with a 29.96% holding, but does not currently have a seat on the board.

Reports suggest that, if successful in a potential takeover, the consortium - said to be backed by funds from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - would be ready to work with Usmanov's Red & White Holdings to help drive the Gunners back to the top of European football, vowing to slash ticket prices and stop the sale of star players such as former captains Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal, who have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, head to north-London rivals Tottenham this afternoon looking to boost their hopes of finishing in the top four, and securing Champions League qualification once again under manager Arsene Wenger - who has long championed the club's self-sustaining policy and the need for UEFA's new Financial Fair Play regulations.

Wilshere, 21, returned from more than a year out injured in October, but is already being heralded as an integral part of the future hopes of both club and country.

Arsenal head to Tottenham on Sunday, where they will come up against in-form Welshman Gareth Bale, who has drawn comparisons with Europe's best after his match-winning performances this season.

Wenger believes his own talented midfielder has everything ahead of him.

"Bale is the flavour of the moment. When you look at Wilshere, who will deny that this guy will get 100 caps for England? Nobody, if he has no injury," said Wenger.

"My worry is not to compare Wilshere with anyone else. My only worry when you are a footballer player of that talent is to become as good as you can become.

"That is the only thing that is of interest to me. I leave the comparisons to other people. My job is to get the best out of him."

Wenger feels it is sometimes overlooked just how much Wilshere has achieved since arriving at the club aged nine.

"You tend to forget how old he is when you see him play. You never come out of a game and think 'this guy is 21 years old'. He's at a stage where the others have not started," said Wenger.

"You think of Jack (as) an established player in the Premier League and at international level, that is still something special."

Wenger feels Wilshere will develop into Arsenal's natural leader. He continued: "Jack breathes football. He doesn't talk too much, but he understands everything

"What he has exceeded is the speed of his physical fitness in the game. Honestly, I never expected that."

Wilshere has yet to score in the Premier League this season, but Wenger feels that the goals will soon come.

"I believe it's part of his development to play a bit more advanced," the Arsenal boss said.

"In some games, he is more comfortable deeper. I believe he has a little dribble that can get him through in the final third and the finishing will come.

"He's a bit in a situation like (Cesc) Fabregas was for a while. He said to me 'but I cannot score goals', however you could see that it would come.

"Jack doesn't talk about it, but who doesn't want to score goals? He is more a team player than a goalscorer.

"He will never be a goalscorer, but he can be capable to score."

Arsenal head across north London defending a five-match unbeaten run, with three victories on the bounce, as they look to move back to just one point behind their rivals.

Wenger accepts there are no longer any margins for error if his team at to secure another top-four finish.

"It is still open, but I am realistic and we cannot drop points," he said.

"One or two of the other teams will always win over the weekend. If we drop points we can fall quickly behind.

"So there are two things we cannot do - drop points and also speculate over the weaknesses of our opponents because that can be deadly as well."

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