Arsenal made the right call saying goodbye to Raul Sanllehi
In a stunning turn of events, Arsenal have announced that head of football Raul Sanllehi will be leaving the football club, with his role set to be taken over by managing director Vinai Venkatesham.
Arsenal’s hierarchical structure has undergone a massive change in each of the last three years. In 2018, Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis both departed after long spells at the club. Last year, Sven Mislintat left his role as head of recruitment, as Raul Sanllehi became the official head of football.
Now Sanllehi joins the list of departures, which only exacerbates the club’s structural instability. In this period of financial stress, the club is said to be focused on streamlining its operations; just last week, Arsenal announced 55 non-playing staff redundancies, which included Francis Cagigao and several other senior scouts.
Arsenal did what needed to be done with Don Raul
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The decision to part ways with ‘Don Raul’ comes at an interesting time; ESPN recently reported that an internal investigation had been launched into the deal for record signing Nicolas Pepe last summer. This has raised speculation that Sanllehi may have overpaid for the Ivorian in order to get his agent contacts some extra money in the deal.
It is understood that all technical decisions will now be taken by Edu and Mikel Arteta, which can only be a positive thing. Arteta potentially having a bigger say in transfers and in Arsenal’s long-term strategy will enable him to build a team truly in line with his vision. That is crucial for a manager who, despite his young age and relative inexperience, already seems to have a clear idea of what he wants and what it will take to revive the club.
Vinai Venkatesham, who has been at Arsenal since 2010, replaced Gazidis as managing director and appears to be more involved in the financial and administrative side of things. Stan and Josh Kroenke issued a statement in praise of the man who will effectively be replacing Sanllehi: “He has shown outstanding leadership during the current crises and is held in high regard internally and externally. We know everyone will rally round him so we can move forward successfully.”
Just two weeks ago, I wrote about how this would be a summer of reckoning for ‘Sanllehi and Co’, and how the club must back Arteta in the transfer market; now, the pressure will instead shift to the likes of Edu, Vinai, and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy.
Personally, I quite liked Sanllehi. Most of the players who arrived under his reign have looked extremely promising, such as Pepe, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, and William Saliba. On the other hand, if he genuinely mishandled the assets of the club in order to pay his friends, then it’s good riddance.
While we may lose out on Sanllehi’s vast agent network, I would much prefer Arteta having a bigger say in the club’s decisions moving forward. Every time I hear him speak, I am in awe of his ability to articulate his vision and ideas for Arsenal. The players love him, the staff loves him, and the fans love him. More Mikel Arteta? Yes, please.