All change at Arsenal: another new face joins the club as the revolution continues

By Tony Attwood

Raul Sanllehi is to join Arsenal as head of football relations: part of the player recruitment team.  This follows the appointment of Sven Mislintat as chief scout last week.

Details of this and other changes in the senior staff at Arsenal are given in All change at Arsenal as the background revolution continues and then subsequent to that All change at Arsenal has some interesting implications

The latest moves see Mislintat come in from Borussia Dortmund to replace Steve Rowley, Dick Law take on a consultancy role from America and Huss Fahmy join from Team Sky to focus on contracts.

Sanllehi worked as Barcelona’s director of football for 14 years. He will need to serve out his notice period before starting work at the Emirates in February 2018.   The official statement says he will “lead future player negotiations and work alongside manager Arsène Wenger, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy. He will also represent and support the club with international and domestic governing bodies.”

These are quite extraordinary changes for a club that has prided itself on the continuity of its system and as the articles noted above, there is clearly a situation in which Arsenal are seeking to bring in the very best people in all departments relating to the recruitment and then subsequent well-being of players.

These are areas that get very little coverage in the football press, and indeed I’ve noted before that I doubt that most fans realise that there is a team of psychologists at the club working on the mental health of the players  constantly.   Actually I suspect if any newspaper ran a feature on that department there would be a number of Arsenal “fans” who would put down any failings in performance that they perceive as being due to the psychologist department.

I really don’t think that these changes mean that Arsenal had particularly slipped behind but rather that it has been recognised for a long time that if Arsenal is going to compete with three clubs that can spend any amount of money they want without being hauled back by Uefa or the Premier League, then Arsenal (which isn’t in that situation) has got to be smarter than the rest.

In once sense that is not that difficult with Manchester City and Liverpool managing to get themselves banned from making transfers, and Manchester United having to have three attempts at finding a manager before they got one who looked as if he might win them some trophies.

These clubs do have the money and can bring in pretty much whomsoever they want with impunity, but they apparently don’t have the internal organisations to turn all this into instant success (if they did we wouldn’t have seen the bans or the appointment of Moyes as a manager).   When Arsenal had their great success around the turn of the century it was because of being incredibly smart – picking up players that no one else was looking at for extraordinarily low prices.  Now I think the club is trying to do that again but through a route that will last beyond the departure of the manager.

ESPN claim that there are two key reasons why Raul Sanllehi  agreed to join Arsenal. The first was Barca’s failure in one particular transfer last summer, and then Sanllehi was blamed for failing to prevent Neymar’s departure to PSG (although such a view puts no blame on the people who drew up Neymar’s contract).

Such accusations have not affected Raul Sanllehi’s reputation as one of the best Directors of Football that there is in Europe a reputation based on his ability to bring together players under three different Barcelona presidents, and keep them winning the Champs League.

He was of course the man who took Luis Suarez to Barcelona for (it seems) quite a bit less than Liverpool had demanded, while also fixing up the transfers of Ivan Rakitic and Marc-André ter Stegen.  And it helps that he is fluent in English.

The nationality and last job of both recent administrative signings is important, with the suggestion that Sven Mislintat (and the presence of Per Mertesacker) makes life easier in trading with Germany and Sanllehi meaning that South American and Spanish transfers should be easier to conclude.  Indeed it is the South American connections that have made life easier for Barcelona with its transfers, although hopefully the illegal side of those, which has landed Barcelona players in the dock, is not being brought to Arsenal.

He was instrumental in bringing Brazil midfielder Paulinho to the Nou Camp and he was part of the ongoing operation to sign Philippe Coutinho. South America is a huge market for Barcelona and he has 15 years of experience and contacts there.

Over his reign Mr Wenger has done a huge amount to represent Arsenal at Uefa meetings where his reputation has grown ceaselessly and Sanllehi is also seen to have a part in this work.  But some feel he will be active as soon as January in terms of bringing in new players.

14 Replies to “All change at Arsenal: another new face joins the club as the revolution continues”

  1. The restructuring of Arsenal is almost complete with: Sven Mislintat, Jens Lehmann, Per Mertesaker, Raul Sanllehi, Darren Burgess, Takahiro Yamamoto, David Priestly, Richard Allison, Huss Fahmy all recently installed in key positions.
    You have to give credit to Ivan, and I retract all of those slanderous things I recently said about him being a waste of space.
    As Arseblog said earlier this is obviously preparation for ‘life after Arsenal Wenger’. He certainly seems acceptable to the changes (although insists that he’s still in charge), so we’ll see how it all comes together.

  2. Tony,

    I fully agree. Arsenal are doing what is necessary and using the newly available money in a long term strategy, investing rather then spending uselesly. And they are not burning bridges either, as Dick Law and Steve Rowly’s continued activity as consultants shows. which proves that they are absolutely capable of keep links to ex Arsenal people – so maybe all the negative of all the ex players is not as one-sided as they make it look.

    As for the apppointment of Sanllehi, wonder how that will pan out for Sanchez and Ozil. After all he must have been in charge when Sanchez first came to Barcelona….

  3. Chris could be that the capability of keeping links with ex Arsenal people is entirely at one end of the scale. It seems to be purely in the management area as opposed to working area on the pitch that the fasn/supporter relates too.
    From the outside it does seem that there is a tendency to carry on regardless whilst those that have a greater experience of actually playing the game are discarded
    These people have things to offer and apparently have tried to be of use but have not had their offers taken up . We all have or at least should have heard the stories of Martin Keown’s influence in our ill fated run up to Paris and we know that Henry was quoted as having watched videos of Ian Wright to learn positioning and runs to make him the player he was.
    You can’t beat experience and not everyone has the ability to pass it on but we do seem to ignore some of the opportunities to tap into it.

  4. porter
    I can think of several ex players who have been involved in recent years without even trying. Brady, Bould, Rice and Henry to start with. I dare say there are others who have had their brains picked from time to time, Pires for example who often trains with the club. I don’t know how that compares to other clubs but it shows things are not quite as bad as you claim they are in this regard at Arsenal.

  5. OT
    Sad news on Santi Cazorla who has had a 9th operation on his tendon. His hoped for return after Christmas is now further delayed. What a nightmare it has been for poor Santi.

  6. I’ve been very critical about the club outside the manager and players but the recent high-profile recruitments sound fantastic. It’s like getting non-playing transfers of Alexis and Özil done. That suggests our club has started a serious business with an eye on tomorrow without neglecting today. Kudos to whoever made it possible!

    Sad news about Santi though. 🙁 I think his assist for Özil’s goal v Ludogorets will be his last kick in the Arsenal shirt. 🙁

  7. ” Manchester United having to have three attempts at finding a manager before they got one who looked as if he might win them some trophies”…..

    We will have to do that sooner rather than later. I hope our board does a better job.

  8. So sad about Santi , As one who has lost mobility in life after a sporting lifetime I can only wish him well and hope he gets back on his feet. Football is secondary now , just the ability to walk around the shops would be nice.

  9. I think we’ve been looking for the right person to fill this role for many years, but the problem is that we haven’t had the money to just buy one of the top guys by blinding them with a salary, and they haven’t wanted to join us whilst the club has had such tight purse strings. So we’ve taken people with the individual skills in the hope that they’ll grow into the role but it hasn’t happened. That’s not to say they’ve been bad at it, but they’ve never exceled at it, so AW has had to be more involved than he should have been.
    Dein wasn’t experienced in the role but was just a natural at it until he caused the club problems and shot himself in the foot. But we’ve all seen (well I have) people with no experience but most of the skill sets to do a specific job be employed for a role, however they never quite make the grade or never quite fitted into the company structure/ethos etc.
    Hopefully Raul will fit like a glove.

  10. This is not the kind of revolution advocated by the (paid?) online supporters of R&W Holdings!

    Look at Everton! During the summer we heard all the experts telling us that Evwrtonwere following the correct model. And now that they’ve appointed Biggus Sammus following his disgrace with England who can argue with that!!!! I expect even the successful youth teams at Everton of Kate will now cease to produce as the former England Manager will again be inositol get to these players which agents or agencies they should be enslaved to, half their youth teams may end up playing in Mexico at this rate (and of you’ve seen Mike Bassett you’d know that is no disgrace but it will be Everton’s loss).

    Will the merry go round of managers friendly with certain agents ever be criticised by any of the gibbering hack dwarves, braying donkeys like Henry Winter, or would that all be too much for them. Am I expecting too much from people of such (low) quality?

  11. IMHO the Arsenal are already negotiating with potential managerial replacements for Arsene, based on the people they’ve brought in so far and also the type of team they seem to be creating;

    1)They’ve brought in 2 Europeans, both from regular WC winning countries,
    2)They’ve brought in some heavy hitters to negotiate with potential player targets,
    3)They’ve strengthened their treatment personnel, their back office staff and have a superb director in Ivan Gazidis.
    4)They are known for their secrecy and discretion when negotiating so my feeling is that they’ve got a shortlist based on the trends we see above; a European manager, one who has won some top awards (WC, EC, etc.), one who can ferret out deals like Wenger can, one who can form a strong team that work well together and with the manager, one who can follow the AFC philosophy and perform well with adequate financial resources but who won’t try and buy a trophy.

    I have always liked Joachim Low (57), Didier Deschamps (49),Vicente del Bosque (66),Max allegri (50),and Louis Van Gaal (66) but both Del Bosque and Van Gaal are Wenger’s age so my bet is on one of the others, and I prefer Low or Deschamps.

  12. All sounds like AW to me, Ivan knows what about The Beautiful Game! There is no question mark as it is not even remotely rhetorical! As for the rest of the ‘important’ board members they seem to care little or less about the team, game or future beyond profit!

    I won’t go into the AGM fiasco! But it would seem Arsene remains firmly at the helm and in full control of everything bar board appointments and cash injection for asset acquisition!

    Plan for tomorrow today, we have signed integral cogs from two of the most successful development teams in the game, if only Bergkamp and Overmars could be scalped and we could grab and oficianado from A Madrid and Either Porto or Sporting?!??!!??

    I like these progressive appointments, evolution as opposed to revolution indeed, even if I have no monkeys in my family tree!

    COYG!!! Till I die!

  13. omgarsenal, Low has a really uninspiring record as a club manager and I don’t think managing a national team has any worthwhile cross-over to club management.
    That’s not to say he wouldn’t be a good club manager but I’d rather he finally showed that elsewhere and joined us after proving it.

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