Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote has hinted he could buy Arsenal in 2021, if a number of multi-billion dollar projects for his company are completed on time.
The 62-year-old founded the Dangote Group – the largest conglomerate in West Africa – in 1981, which deals with the manufacturing and production of a number of consumer goods including sugar, cement, rice, flour and fisheries.
Dangote has a net worth of more than £8.5 billion ($11 billion) and has been heavily linked with a takeover at Arsenal in the past, with the club currently owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment.
Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder at Emirates Stadium, but Dangote could be in a position to buy him out by next year, with his company set to begin the production of the largest single-train refinery in the world later this year in Lekki, Lagos State.
Africa’s richest man is concentrating on that business venture at the moment, but says he plans to buy Arsenal when the Dangote refinery is finished.
“It is a team that, yes, I would like to buy someday, but what I keep saying is we have $20 billion (£15 billion) worth of projects and that’s what I really want to concentrate on,” Dangote told the David Rubenstein Show.
“I’m trying to finish building the company and then, after we finish, maybe sometime in 2021 we can.
“I’m not buying Arsenal right now, I’m buying Arsenal when I finish all these projects because I’m trying to take the company to the next level.”
The Gunners are very much in the middle of a transitional period at the moment, with the 2019-20 campaign disrupted by significant changes in the dugout.
Unai Emery was sacked in November after just over a year in charge of the first team, with his assistant Freddie Ljungberg then asked to step up to the role of head coach on an interim basis.
Arsenal took their time before appointing Emery’s permanent successor, and eventually identified Manchester City No.2 Mikel Arteta as the right man to take the club forward.
The former Gunners captain signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the Emirates on December 20, with his appointment largely welcomed by supporters and experts.
Arsenal have won two of their last three matches under Arteta , with a crucial Premier League fixture at home to Sheffield United up next on Saturday.
The north London outfit are 10th in the standings at the moment, 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League spot.