Multibillionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has given hints of an impending move to buy English Premier League club, Arsenal.
The latest development comes five years after Dangote and billionaire buddy, Femi Otedola, reportedly made attempts at buying stakes in Arsenal and Newcastle United respectively, but their offers were rejected.
Dangote, who doubles as Nigeria and Africa’s richest man, told Bloomberg that this time around he will not offer a “ridiculous price,” rather just one the “owners won’t want to resist.”
“I still hope, one day at the right price, that I’ll buy the team. I might buy it, not at a ridiculous price but a price that the owners won’t want to resist. I know my strategy,” Dangote said.
With his value reckoned to be in the region of $18.4billion (N4 trillion), Dangote, who has made his fortune through various operations including cement manufacturing, sugar supply and oil investments, however, says that he will concentrate on expanding his own business before launching a new offer for Arsenal.
“We have $16bn-worth [€14bn] of investments in the next few years. Right now I want to take my own business to a certain level. Once I finish on that trajectory, then maybe an offer will follow,” he explained.
A rabid Arsenal fan, Dangote federacriticised the club’s longtime manager, Arsene Wenger, claiming that the 65-year-old “needs to change his style a bit” and warning that the club “need new direction”.
Aside being an Arsenal fan, Dangote’s interest in buying the London club may not be unconnected to the huge fan base the Gunners enjoy among football followers in Nigeria.
“It won’t be out of place to say Nigeria may have more Arsenal fans than anywhere else in the world,” Arsenal’s former Marketing Director, Angus Kinnear, told journalists in March 2012 at a press conference to herald Arsenal’s visit to Nigeria that year.
Arsenal’s popularity in Nigeria assumed its peak between 1999 and 2004, when Nwankwo Kanu, a former Nigeria international played for the club, and the Gunners currently have in their fold a number of Nigerian-born youth prodigies like Chuba Akpom and Alex Iwobi.