Arsenal needs to strengthen in every area: Usmanov

Currently suffering its worst start to the season in 32 years, soccer club Arsenal needs to strengthen every part of its team to compete at the highest level, according to Russian billionaire and leading shareholder Alisher Usmanov.

"My opinion - and I tell it openly - we need to strengthen every position to play on the level of such teams in (the) U.K. as Chelsea and Manchester City, in Europe like Real (Madrid), Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, (Bayern Munich) and other clubs," he told CNBC in an interview.

The London-based club lost to rivals Manchester United over the weekend with manager Arsene Wenger calling his own team "defensively naive." Arsenal now sit in eighth-place in the English Premier League and have won just one trophy since 2005.

Last year's victory in the FA Cup was seen by fans as a chance for the team to rekindle the success that Arsenal saw back in the 1990s and the early 2000s. But this season's fortunes have once again left supporters frustrated. The 2-1 loss to at home to Manchester United, a team currently in state of flux with a brand new manager, confirmed the club's disappointing start.

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"Arsenal is a dream that sometimes becomes a mirage and sometimes a pain as every dream," Uzbek-born Usmanov said.

"(The) potential of the team is there, but there is no critical evaluation of mistakes and they need to need to acknowledge them. Because no genius can retain the same level of genius if they do not acknowledge mistakes. It's only when you admit your mistakes that you can get rid of them."

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ADRIAN DENNIS | Getty Images

Usmanov is the team's second largest shareholder, after U.S. entrepreneur Stan Kroenke, and currently owns around 30 percent of the club, after buying former vice-chairman David Dein's stake in 2008 for £75 million ($122 million).

The Russian billionaire told CNBC that he was unhappy with the team's failure to regularly progress to the latter stages of the European Champions League -- the region's biggest money-spinning soccer competition.

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He also questioned the effectiveness of Wenger, who has faced criticism in recent years after key players have left the club without being replaced with high-profile recruits.

"He is one of the greatest coaches, not just of European, but of world football. But we have a Russian proverb which goes: "Even an old lady can make a mistake," he said.

The Frenchmen began his reign at the club in 1996 and is now the longest-serving manager in the English Premier League. Usmanov said he had no control regarding the choice of manager but added that Wenger should have the opportunity to secure the success which his team deserves.

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"Everybody makes mistakes. He can make mistakes and I know as you age it is more difficult, more challenging to accept one's mistakes," Usmanov said.

He added that he liked Wenger for his "principles" but said that that it was these principles that could be seen as restrictions that are creating "lost possibilities."

"Does (Wenger) have money or not? There is officially money in the club," Usmanov said.

Clarification: This article has been updated since first published to give a more precise translation of an old Russian proverb.