‘The priority is to give the club back its DNA’ – Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira throws support behind Daniel Ek’s takeover bid

Former Arsenal star Patrick Vieira looks on during OGC Nice's clash with Hapoel Be'er Sheva
Patrick Vieira wants to bring Arsenal’s DNA back (Picture: Getty)

Ex-Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has lifted the lid on his involvement in Daniel Ek’s proposed takeover bid which he believes could ‘give the club back its DNA’ if successful.

Spotify founder Ek made an eye-watering £1.8bn offer to buy the Gunners in the wake of the failed European Super League project last month but the Kroenke family were quick to dismiss speculation that they could be set to relinquish control.

The Swedish billionaire businessman, a lifelong Arsenal fan, had been backed by legendary trio Vieira, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp in his attempts to replace the Kroenkes, with the latter recently calling on the the club’s American owners to enter into dialogue with potential suitors.

Vieira, discussing the matter for the first time on Friday, claimed Arsenal had lost their way in the post-Arsene Wenger era and argued that a change at the top could help bring his former team’s identity back.

Spotify founder Daniel Ek
Spotify founder Ek made a £1.8bn offer to buy Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘After the time that I spent with Daniel, I personally believe it’s time for a change of ownership and I believe he is the right person to bring happiness back to this football club,’ Vieira told The Daily Mail.

‘We haven’t talked about ourselves. What is happening to this club at the moment is bigger than Dennis, Thierry or myself. We are concerned about how can we help Daniel, because we strongly believe he can take it to a different level. 

‘We didn’t talk about what we will do if Daniel gets the club. We didn’t get into that conversation yet because that is not the priority. The priority is to give the club back its DNA and what it deserves.

‘What is really important is to understand the football club, the fans, the country where you are. We have this kind of credibility because we know what we are talking about because of the number of years we spend in England and at Arsenal. We have experience that we can bring to the football club.’

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke
The Kroenke family insist they have no plans to relinquish control of Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Vieira added: ‘When you look at Dennis, Thierry and myself, we spent a lot of years at this club. 

‘Maybe it was the place where we played our best football. England was a fantastic place for us to live and we enjoyed our lives at the club and outside as well. The country and the club mean a lot to us.

‘Seeing Arsenal not being one of the teams that can challenge for the Premier League or not being one of the teams guaranteed to play Champions League football is frustrating, because that is not what we are used to with Arsenal Football Club.

‘The club deserves much better than that.’

Asked why Ek would be any different to Arsenal’s current owners, Vieira replied: ‘Because of the way that he talks about the club, the way he talks about the feeling he has for this club and what he is prepared to do for this club.

‘When somebody is passionate about something, you have a feeling about it. 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.

Vieira joined Bergkamp and Henry in backing Ek’s bid (Picture: Getty)

‘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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According to Vieira, Leicester showed the rest of the football world how a club should be run when they won the FA Cup earlier this month, with chairman Khun Top clearly a popular figure among Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

‘Seeing Leicester winning the FA Cup and the chairman celebrating with the players reminded me of Arsenal when we were at Highbury,’ he went on.

‘The Leicester atmosphere is reminding me a lot of Arsenal at that time. It’s really good for the Premier League and football in general that Leicester won the FA Cup, because that shows that the togetherness and spirit of a club is maybe more important than the money you have in the bank.

‘Leicester showed what a football club should be today. It showed that football is still the people’s game and football is about the passion. I played football because of love for the game, spending time playing with my friends after school. I didn’t do an individual sport, I always loved collective games.

‘The way the fans reacted to the Super League showed that football is about the heart, the passion for the game, about winning, losing, but football is for everybody. Leicester winning the FA Cup showed to the Premier League and the world that you can still be really successful with passion.

‘I want the chairman, the players, the fans included. How many times did the Kroenkes go to a game to watch Arsenal play? I don’t have the answer but that is a question I would like to know [the answer to]. How many times have they been to see the players? How many times have they met with the fans? The answer will tell you how big the gap is between them and the fans.’

Vieira hopes Arsenal fans’ planned protest against the Kroenkes is carried out in a ‘peaceful way’ at the Emirates ahead of Sunday’s final match of the season versus Brighton.

‘People will talk about the negativity more than anything else,’ the ex-France midfielder said.

‘The fans have to express themselves about how they think this club has been running but they have to do it with manners and in a peaceful way.’

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