Selling Van Persie to Manchester United was a mistake - Usmanov hits out at Arsenal

The 59-year-old Russian is one of the club's main shareholders and feels that letting the Netherlands international leave for Old Trafford in the summer was a poor decision
Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has declared that the club made "a mistake" in selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United.

The 59-year-old, who already owns a 30 per cent stake in the club but does not have a seat on the board, believes that more should have been done to prevent last season's Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year from leaving the club, even if he understands the decision made by the player.

After completing a £24m move to Sir Alex Ferguson's club in the summer, though, the 29-year-old forward has settled into his new surroundings superbly, hitting 12 goals in 17 league appearances and 15 across all competitions.
4/1 Pep Guardiola is 4/1 to be the next permanent Arsenal manager with Paddy Power

"This decision [losing Van Persie] was a mistake," Usmanov told CNBC.

"If I am one of Wenger’s players I would want to stay for the finish, but he explained Robin wanted to go to win trophies."

The billionaire, who made his estimated £18 billion fortune in the mining and lumber industries, also slammed the club's board for not significantly backing manager Arsene Wenger over the past few years, attempting to play down any talk of a rift between the pair at the same time.

He added: "First I did not hear the claims that Arsene Wenger was against me and the board, and I am surprised about this.

"Second I always tell Mr Wenger he is one of the best coaches and football managers in the world but I openly admit he has many, many difficulties to contend with.

"Today less, but over the last five years he has not had enough support to provide his conceptions of his game in Arsenal from the board, either for transfers or for keeping players etc.

"I never interfere with things over which I have no control, this question [about buying players] is for Wenger.

"I never ever give instruction to chief executive of my plans I only ask you need my help or not."