Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes that Arsene Wenger will extend his stay at Arsenal after the FA Cup final and has revealed why he thinks his own return to the club is unlikely under the Frenchman’s tenure.
Keown became an integral part of Wenger's double winning sides of 1998 and spent a year at the club coaching with the Gunners boss several years ago.
Speaking on behalf of BT Sport ahead of the Emirates FA Cup Final, Keown revealed what he thinks of Alisher Usmanov's £1bn bid for Stan Kroenke's shares and gave his opinion on Tony Adam's recent comments on Wenger.
ON USMANOV BID
I think when someone wants to pay that amount of money for a football club it’s clear that they want to inject more finance into the club. It feels that Kroenke is more of an investor than somebody who wants to spend large amounts of his own money. It’s one thing to buy the shares but none of the money finds its way into Arsene Wenger’s hands [for new players].
ON SUMMER TRANSFERS
The first step is to sort out the players you have. The Sanchez and Ozil situation needs to be resolved because it’s been too much about those two players. For Arsenal teams looking back at the ones I played in it was never about individuals it was about the collective team. Obviously they’ve developed into top players. The manager needs to resolve his own situation and then go into the transfer market and strengthen the group. When you fall short that’s a signal that you’re not good enough. Midfield is an area where he wants to strengthen and upfront is an area as well. Welbeck coming back is a massive plus but he can’t play him every week.
ON ATTRACTING TOP PLAYERS
I don’t want to talk about projects and business but that’s what football has become about. If there is to be a different business plan for Arsenal and they’re going to spend more money then they’ll attract more players to the club. That doesn’t seem to have affected Manchester United with the purchase of Pogba. Arsenal have set themselves a reputation throughout Europe and people still want to join them as they’re a top club.
ON WENGER'S FUTURE
I always find he never makes his mind up on the strength of one game, it’s what he’s achieved over a length of time. I do feel he’ll stay as football is his life. He’s not unique in that but it’s everything he has to the cause of Arsenal Football Club. You can’t say there forever and everyone has to leave at some point, but it seems that if he leaves now it will be too soon. The new manager would come in around June - I’m not sure the club is geared up for that amount of change. He’s always been intelligent and would maybe have to adapt to a succession plan.
ON ADAMS' COMMENTS
Arsene Wenger’s been the best manager that I’ve worked under. People see things in different ways but surely that’s good management to make the players feel empowered and make them feel like they’re the ones making the difference. Quietly in the background it was Wenger who was doing that by merely putting the right people around him. I do have some element of sympathy where Tony has tried to come back to the club on four occasions and sometimes you do feel distant as a player, but there’s lots of good staff in position. Former players need to know their place in the football club but there’s so many [of them] you don’t know how you can find the right people to identify for the club.
ON RETURNING TO ARSENAL UNDER WENGER
No, I don’t think it is [likely]. I worked there for a year in a mentoring role and we couldn’t necessarily agree a proper job for me. He wanted me to continue and I took the decision to not continue to work there. I did that for family reasons and have no regrets as you have to put your family first. If the club wanted me to assist and help in some way of course we’d all feel that we’d go back at a moments notice to go back and help.
ON THE CUP FINAL
Koscielny is a massive loss, Gabriel as well is really underrated. They can still win it, of course they can. You walk out onto the pitch and it’s never easy to go over the line and win games. Maybe they can test David Luiz and test Cahill and cause problems for them. I see no reason why they can’t win and Wenger wins his seventh FA Cup.