Arsene Wenger says Chelsea can remain competitive under the new ownership even without the investment of Roman Abramovich, while he says he ‘respects’ the impact the Russian made on the league.
Abramovich announced last week that he was looking for a buyer for the club – which he bought in 2003 – amid calls for the Russian billionaire to be sanctioned after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The 55-year-old has set a price tag of around £3b for Chelsea, which Wenger feels is above the going rate, while the former Arsenal manager has some advice for the new owners on how to ensure they continue the success Abramovich enjoyed.
‘I would say he was the first big investor [before] the Glazers to come in, at a golden period for a guy that was a billionaire. There was no Financial Fair Play, you could put as much money in as you wanted,’ Wenger told beIN SPORTS.
‘Today, with the FFP, I would not necessarily advise somebody to come in to fight against Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, who are lightyears ahead of them, to build a good team – because you cannot invest the money you want to invest.
‘So it is much more difficult today. But he came in at the golden period and I give him credit.
‘He understood quickly what to do, put competent people in charge who managed the club very well and put him to a level that is absolutely outstanding. I have a lot of respect for what he did.’
Asked if Chelsea’s new owners will be able to match Abramovich’s spending power, Wenger added: ‘You cannot. Today you cannot put that money in, privately, that is impossible. It is limited to, I think, £200m over three years. At that time you could put a billion in.
‘I always advised people who wanted to buy football clubs, instead of putting £100m in every year, put £500m in in the first year and buy the right players, then you have a team. He could do that and he did very well and today I think the club is managed very well and is at a top level.’
On maintaining success after Abramovich is gone, Wenger said: ‘It is still sustainable as a football club today because they are at a good level. But after that when you come in it is down to money and good decisions.
‘Sometimes people have good decisions but no money, sometimes they have money but they make bad decisions. So you have to put the two together.’
On the price tag Abramovich has set, Wenger continued: ‘I think first you would have to assess what is the real price of a football club? I personally think it’s 2-2.5 times the turnover. For example if the turnover for a club per year is £700m the normal price would be £1.4bn to £2bn, and that looks to make sense.
‘After that it looks like today, in the world, you have many buyers and that the price is not 2-2.5 times the turnover, it looks like 4-5 times is requested. Why is that? Because certainly Abramovich said that he has a lot of money in there that needs to be paid back to him.
‘Some people say it’s over a billion that he has personally put into the accounts there and loaned to the club, so that will certainly be added to the price. And secondly the Premier League is where everybody wants to be today who has money, so it will be an interesting story.’