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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Aliko Dangote speaks on stage at the Africa-America Institute's 2016 Annual Awards Gala at Cipriani 25 Broadway on September 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Africa-America Institute)

African Billionaire Says He Wants To Buy Arsenal And Fire Arsene Wenger

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has expressed an interest in purchasing English soccer club Arsenal, and added that his first move should he succeed in this venture would be to fire the team’s longtime manager Arsene Wenger. 

Arsenal acquisition news

Dangote — who is chairman and CEO of multinational industrial conglomerate Dangote Group, which has interest in commodities — is the richest man in Africa according to Forbes, with a net worth of $12.5 billion. The 60-year-old admitted in an interview that he has been a fan of Arsenal since the mid-1980s. Dangote also added that he will attempt to make an offer for the club after the construction of an $11 billion oil refinery in Nigeria’s capital Lagos is completed toward the end of this decade.

“The first thing I would change is the coach,” Dangote said. “He has done a good job, but someone else should also try his luck.”

Wenger has been Arsenal’s manager since 1996, and is European soccer’s longest-serving coach. Since arriving at Anfield 21 years ago, the 67-year-old Frenchman has led Gunners to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup trophies. In May, Wenger signed a two-year extension after months of speculation as to whether he would remain with Arsenal following the team’s poor performance in several major tournaments. Although Arsenal won the Emirates FA Cup this year, the club failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 years and finished fifth in the Premier League. Fans even angrily took to the streets in London to call for Wenger’s firing.

Arsenal’s majority shareholder is American billionaire Stan Kroenke, who controls nearly 67 percent of the franchise and also owns the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams.

Nevertheless, Dangote said he is confident he can convince Kroenke and Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov — who owns 30 percent of Arsenal — to sell.

“If they get the right offer, I’m sure they would walk away,” said Dangote. “Someone will give them an offer that will make them seriously consider walking away. And when we finish the refinery, I think we will be in a position to do that.”

“It’s a great team, well-run. It could be run better, so I will be there,” he said. “I will wait. Even if things change I will take it.”

In May, Usmanov made a $1.3 billion (£1 billion) bid to buy out Kroenke. The approach valued the club at approximately $2 billion.

According to Forbes, Arsenal is worth $1.9 billion (£1.5 billion).

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 20: Aliko Dangote speaks on stage at the Africa-America Institute’s 2016 Annual Awards Gala at Cipriani 25 Broadway on September 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Africa-America Institute)

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Written by Pablo Mena