Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira has offered stinging criticism of the current situation at the club, the Frenchman lamenting the loss of ‘identity’ in recent years.
The 44-year-old – who was most recently manager of Ligue 1 side Nice – spent nine years with the Gunners after joining the club from AC Milan in 1996, going on to help the club to three Premier League titles, as well as four FA Cup triumphs.
Having been part of one of the club’s most successful spells in its history, the World Cup winner has had to sit by and watch his former side’s fortunes falter in recent years, Vieira having played in Arsenal‘s last title triumph back in 2003/04.
While the club has since had success in domestic cup competitions, recent years, in particular, have seen them struggle even just to contend for a top-four spot, the north London club having not taken part in the Champions League since the 2016/17 campaign.
The situation is also just as turbulent off the pitch, with current owners the Kroenke’s under intense pressure to sell following their involvement in the attempted European Super League breakaway, as well as for a perceived lack of investment and lack of interest in the club.
Amid that current turmoil, Spotify founder and Gunners fan, Daniel Ek has stated his intention to buy the club, the Swedish entrepreneur receiving public backing from members of the famed ‘Invincibles’ side, including Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
With Ek having promised to hand more power to the supporters, Vieira thinks the Swede could bring back a sense of ‘union’ between the club and its fans, admitting that his former side have lost their ‘identity’ in recent times, particularly since the departure of Arsene Wenger in 2018.
“When somebody is passionate about something, you have a feeling about it,” he told the Mail. “I believe he can bring back the glory days at Arsenal if he managed to buy it. But to buy it, the guys need to sell and maybe the Kroenkes don’t want to sell.
“But Daniel can be the right person to bring back this union that you used to have at this club between the fans, players and the ownership. I found him to be someone who knew a lot about Arsenal, loved Arsenal and was a true Arsenal fan. I found somebody who really wanted to build something simple around the fans. That is something that pushed us to support him.
“What’s going wrong at Arsenal is not just this year, it’s the last couple of years. “When you look at Arsenal in the Arsene Wenger era, you always had this kind of figure, a strong personality, who could represent the club.
“Through the years, Arsenal has lost a little bit of identity, not just on the field but off the field as well. When I talk about identity on the field, in my time at Arsenal you had players like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, who had been at the club for years. When you got there, those players made you understand the club’s DNA, what Arsenal means.
“Through the years, Arsenal has lost this kind of identity. People now realise that in losing Arsene, they lost more than a manager or coach. Arsene had a massive impact on Arsenal in every department. Since he left [in 2018] maybe there wasn’t the right people to fill all the positions that Arsene was doing.
“They brought a scouting guy [Sven Mislintat] from Germany who stayed a little bit. They brought this kind of CEO or sporting director [Raul Sanllehi] from Spain who didn’t stay very long.
“Losing Arsene and this kind of person coming into the club did not give the club the stability it needed to build a new era, a new foundation. It’s like building a house. You want to build a house on solid foundations. That is the biggest problem in the last couple of years at Arsenal.”
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