Arsenal legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira have joined billionaire Spotify owner Daniel Ek in a bid to buy the club following fans’ protests against current owner Stan Kroenke.
Ek, estimated to be worth around £3.4billion, tweeted his intentions to explore the possibility of acquiring the club on Friday.
Director Josh Kroenke, the son of the current owner, has insisted the club is not for sale, but the presence of three of its legends backing a new bid will apply pressure following recent events.
Sportsmail understands, however, that club chiefs have doubts over the seriousness of Ek’s takeover bid.
Their reservations stem from the fact that Ek chose to tweet about it rather than try to start official discussions, while roping in the Invincibles is also seen as a publicity stunt masking his lack of the necessary funds to buy the club.
Daniel Ek is moving forwards with his bid to buy Arsenal football club from Stan Kroenke
Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira have all been enlisted to aid the takeover
It has been reported that Kroenke would listen to offers of around £2bn for Arsenal.
Ek’s individual net worth is estimated at around £3.4bn by Forbes.
That would mean Ek, 38, would have to take control over Arsenal via a consortium or with a partner.
Gunners supporters made their feelings towards Kroenke clear on Friday evening when hundreds turned out to protest against the American at the Emirates Stadium.
An effigy of the 73-year-old was hanged as they called for him to sell up, after his attempts to make Arsenal one of the founding members of the breakaway European Super League.
Ek wrote in his tweet that same day: ‘As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE (Kroenke Sports Enterprises) would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring.’
And according to the Daily Telegraph, he has now enlisted the help of three of Arsenal’s most famous Invincibles to take forward his bid to take over.
Gunners record scorer Henry, former captain Vieira and Bergkamp could return to the Emirates Stadium in a working capacity should the takeover be successful.
Ek and Sofia Verlander at their Lake Como wedding in 2016, at which Bruno Mars performed
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and his wife Priscilla Chan (right) were in attendance
Ek and Ciara attend a Spotify and Hulu party in Cannes in 2019 (left); the businessman poses with pop stars Julia Michaels (right picture, left) and Khalid (right picture, second right)
Ek founded Spotify, the subscription music streaming giant, in 2006 as an answer to the online music piracy that was rife at the time, and the company is now valued at $50bn (£34bn). It has 345m users and 155m subscribers globally.
A tech prodigy, he is reported to have begun building websites at the age of just 13 and by 18 was said to be earning more than his mother and father combined.
Ek told the Financial Times in 2013 that ‘buying sports cars, going to expensive nightclubs, spraying people with champagne and things like that… it wasn’t for me and, in fact, I feel pretty empty after doing that’.
He does, however, enjoy the company of A-list celebrities. Bruno Mars performed at his Lake Como wedding to Sofia Levander, a Swedish author, in 2016, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was among those who attended. Ek and Verlander have two daughters, Elissa and Colinne.
Friday evening saw hundreds of Arsenal supporters protest against the current ownership
Stan Kroenke was the target of much of fans’ anger after the club formed part of the failed ESL
Kroenke, who is valued at just under £6bn, has been part of the Arsenal hierarchy since 2008 but fans have become increasingly frustrated with his lack of investment in the club.
Josh Kroenke denied the club is for sale at a fans’ forum on Thursday, where he defended the decision to join the European Super League.
He told fans via Zoom: ‘Leadership is about recognising when you are wrong, correcting and apologising. We asked ourselves, what is worse: a Super League or a Super League without Arsenal? We also asked ourselves, what do the fans want?
‘The global fan wants Arsenal against Barcelona as often as possible. English fans want to see more big matches, but you also still want your cold nights in Stoke. Now we need to build a bridge and we will.’
However, Henry spoke out over the weekend, backing the fans for protesting and insisting he no longer recognises the club with which he won two Premier League titles and reached the Champions League final.
‘This club belongs to the fans, I love the club and I will support the club until I die, but I do not recognise my club and what happened just now, with them trying to join a league that would have been closed, makes no sense to me,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
‘They have been running the club like a company, not a football club, and they showed their hand.’
Chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has been attempting to build bridges with fans and other chairmen around the Premier League following the European Super League debacle last week.
Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has moved to apologise to fans over the ESL
He has been in touch with fellow chiefs at each of the 14 Premier League clubs not involved with the breakaway league to apologise.
‘Arsenal were not the authors of this proposal, despite what many think,’ he told supporters on Thursday.
‘On this project, the train was leaving the station. We made the decision to join. We made a bad decision, a terrible one. Now we need to make good ones.’
Despite their work with the potential takeover, Henry, Vieira and Bergkamp have all moved into coaching roles since retiring from football.
Henry has managed Monaco and most recently Montreal Impact, following a career on the pitch that saw him become Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer with 228.
Henry has moved into management since retiring, having coached CF Montreal and Monaco
He lifted two Premier League titles and two FA Cups with the Gunners – as did Vieira, who made 393 appearances for the north London club. The 44-year-old came to personify Arsenal’s rivalry with Manchester United given his constant run-ins with United captain Roy Keane.
Vieira was sacked by Nice in December last year but has spoken of his desire to get back into coaching, the former midfielder having been linked with a move to the Premier League.
Bergkamp, who was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1998 while at Arsenal, left his assistant coach role at Ajax in 2014.
Like Henry, the Dutchman has a statue outside the Emirates, depicting his famous first touch for his hat-trick goal against Leicester City in 1997 – a goal that won him the BBC Goal of the Season competition.
Henry and Vieira can be seen with the Premier League trophy during Arsenal’s 2004 parade