• Russian wants Arsène Wenger backed in transfer market
• Shareholder unhappy about the sale of best players
The underlying tensions within Arsenal's ownership structure have resurfaced as time ticks down towards the transfer deadline after the major shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, claimed the board's lack of spending and inability to hang on to the club's best players have effectively rendered them a feeder team for their rivals.
Usmanov, who owns just under 30% of Arsenal, has regularly expressed his frustrations at the running of the club by the majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, and offered his latest outburst in an interview with L'Equipe. Arsenal have not claimed a trophy since the FA Cup in 2005 and have lost the likes of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Gaël Clichy to the two Manchester clubs – as well as Cesc Fábregas and Alex Song to Barcelona – in recent years.
"The greatest achievement of Arsène Wenger is to have created two teams: the one that now plays for our rivals and the one that is trying to be among the best in the Premier League," Usmanov said. "That's why I say it's not enough to merely flatter the coach, but to give him the possibility to buy the best players, superstars. But not just stars, but those chosen by Wenger.
"For me, he's one of the best coaches in the world, but it's not easy for him. I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they're needed. The best players, and not being satisfied with selling our best players to our rivals.
"If that happens, we can ask everything of him. But, today, he's sacrificed. Because of the policy and we're all to blame. Everything's in Mr Kroenke's hands and I hope he succeeds, even if he doesn't go along with my ideas.
"It's unthinkable that the shareholders get well paid while, for small clauses in contracts, we lose key players like Robin van Persie, Mathieu Flamini or Patrick Vieira. We should have increased their salaries when they started to be courted, started to look elsewhere. I don't know why we didn't propose that to them."
Arsenal may now not add to their ranks before the transfer window shuts on Thursday night, despite interest in the West Ham United midfielder Mohamed Diamé – a target for Tottenham Hotspur – and Barcelona's David Villa, as they seek to reach the Champions League for a 16th successive season. They currently lie sixth, four points off Tottenham, and host Liverpool on Wednesday. Thomas Vermaelen should be fit to return for that fixture, but doubts remain over Mikel Arteta's involvement.
Kroenke has consistently stated his support for Wenger, whose contract has one more season to run, and that he has no intention of selling the club. Yet Usmanov suggested Thierry Henry, Arsenal's record goalscorer, has urged him to buy out the American and take control.
"I like many footballers and I'm in contact with some of them," he added. "Perhaps my favourite of the last 10, 15 years is Thierry Henry. He's pushing me to buy all of Arsenal's shares, but I cannot predict the future.
"When I had the chance to buy some shares and become one of the main shareholders in the club, I didn't hesitate for a second. I was even ready to take total control. That wasn't possible because certain people preferred to make a profit and create, using me, an outside enemy. I remain portrayed as a pirate, an enemy. They have won that game."