The departure of Raul Sanllehi is rapidly becoming a suspense novel containing a cast of characters (the super-agents), illegal deals, and big sums of money changing hands for services and favours.
We don’t know where the rabbit hole leads but from an Arsenal point of view, Raul Sanllehi had to go. The mystery involving Sanllehi includes several super-agents in the cast list such as Kia Joorabchian, Jorge Mendes, and Arturo Canales, none of whom would be guaranteed automatic admission through the gates of heaven.
There are just too many questions as to why these super-agents had joint involvement in some deals executed by Sanllehi, which were thought to be that relatively straight forward. Services and consultation fees were allegedly applied as laboured deals began to cost more and more money.
For instance, rumour has it that Jorge Mendes was involved in the transfer of Nicolas Pepe to get it across the line at the instruction of Sanllehi even though, Edu and Huss Fahmy could have wrapped things up. The David Luiz deal was initially £8m but eventually came to £24m including £6m of agent fees and £8m to intermediaries.
Arturo Canales has had links with Sanllehi for some time and it’s curious how he was employed to work intermittently behind the scenes on deals. Canales took over the closing negotiations from Sven Mislintat in the transfer of Bernd Leno and the deal went from £18m to £22.5m. What kind of services add £4.5m to the end result?
Out of the three super-agents Sanllehi had connections with, Joorabchian is the least likely to hide in the shadows because of his known love for the spotlight. However, he wasn’t so keen to be noticed in 2005 when he was at the centre of a money-laundering investigation in Brazil.
The smoke and mirrors of a possible network of collaboration and deception loom large as Arsenal’s non-executive white knight, Tim Lewis looks into the books and practices of the North London club. Quite what else he will find is anyone’s guess, but there’s going to be weeks of digging through a series of permanent and loan deals featuring the assembled cast of high earning parasites.
Lewis may well want to ponder other information that raises a number of questions over how Sanllehi conducted operations. After Arsenal’s embarrassing defeat to Chelsea in Baku, Sanllehi was preparing a contract extension for Unai Emery.
Why? Perhaps, because Emery was not permitted to participate in ANY transfer deals. Mmm, we’ll leave that for a moment but whatever way you turn, the smoke gets thicker.
Arturo Canales was key in the hiring of Unai Emery and Pablo Mari. It’s said that Emery wasn’t even on the shortlist but Sanllehi was said to be very keen to get a fellow Spaniard on board and pushed heavily in his favour.
Joorabchian is the agent to Edu, David Luiz, Willian, and Cedric Soares and he is, coincidentally, the agent of the one-time target Layvin Kurzawa and he currently has Phillipe Coutinho on his books.
The evidence so far reveals a complex network of doors that lead everywhere and nowhere at the same time. If there had been any wrongdoing, then it may cost more to uncover it than the actual figures involved.
In the aftermath of Sanllehi’s exit, there have been a series of fluffy statements from Arsenal to the press which are completely conflicting. They include versions where Sanllehi swiftly relinquished his duties, surprisingly offered his resignation, and suddenly ended his reign by the mutual agreement.
There’s an irony to all this drama, the fact is that the Arsenal board wanted the power back from Wenger and they then passed it to someone morally corrupt and far less knowledgable within the game.
So far there is nothing to suggest that Sanllehi didn’t abuse his position and he used his power to achieve his own goals rather than that of the club. He had free reign to run the club in the absence of an owner who knows less than the groundsman.
I’m told by a source close to the club that this story will go on for some time and that Arsenal will remain tight-lipped regarding its findings. Under the present ownership, Kroenke isn’t obligated to tell anyone what happens at Arsenal and unless the mainstream media get a breakthrough, it might remain that way.