Two days ago, ‘Don‘ Raul Sanllehi was sacked and Vinai Venkatesham was installed as the new head of football at Arsenal. With Sanllehi no more bossing around in football matters, Edu and Arteta will be able to take matters into their own hands and lead Arsenal into a new dawn.
For a club that didn’t like the levels of control that were afforded to former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, they certainly know how to move a problem sideways.
They removed the Frenchman’s powers by sacking him only to pass it over to someone with far less football knowledge and credibility in Raul Sanllehi. At AD, we have been constantly suggesting that the former head of football at the North London club chose targets to feed on to the coach, who was then Unai Emery.
It’s just another really poor appointment in a long list of inappropriate choices by the Kroenke’s which has cost them dearly in more ways than one.
However, with Raul now out of the picture, Edu, a real football man, former player, and technical director, can work with Arteta to bring in the players that he and the Brazilian have chosen without having to worry about the small print.
Unai Emery was met with resistance over his preferred transfer targets from both Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi and once Mislintat was squeezed out, Raul had the keys to the castle. Emery wanted Zaha and Nzonzi but got Pepe and Torreira. He wanted Thomas Partey and Harry Maguire but ended up with Guendouzi and Luiz.
I wrote an article in March this year entitled “Is Raul Sanllehi about to become a bigger problem than Stan Kroenke and Ivan Gazidis ever were.” It was a recurring theme that I had visited over the previous seasons, probably since Sanllehi’s arrival. In the blog, I said:
“I hope I’m wrong but there’s a lot of stories coming out of Arsenal of a confused pyramid of hierarchy, which doesn’t assist the team or coach and claims that transfers are no longer in the hands of the man heading up the team. Raul Sanllehi strikes me as a more knowledgable version of Gazidis but someone with a dubious record in parts, especially his involvement in club transfers.
I’m of a mind that it’s the manager/coach who normally gets fired and if you want him to do well for himself and the club, you have to support his ideas and vision. That normally comes when a coach needs to rebuild and takes the form of pursuing transfer targets that HE HAS IDENTIFIED.
Arteta has gained the trust of the majority of fans unlike Kroenke or Sanllehi but he has an almost impossible job in trying to build a side that someone else has bought.”
On the subject of transfers, former Gunner Alan Smith questioned the Willian deal when he told Sky Sports:
“Willian’s free transfer from Chelsea surprised me at first given the Brazilian’s age. Just turned 32 with lots of miles on the clock, Stamford Bridge has surely seen his best days.
So was this just a convenient move because he has the right agent? Something foisted upon Arteta by Raul Sanllehi, the head of football?”
We won’t know the answer to that for a while and the Brazilian’s performances are probably more important in a crucial season for Arsenal where they MUST make the top four. Now, it’s down to Edu to live up to his billing and it’s time for Kroenke to support his coach and release the necessary cash and for Arteta to define his vision and Arsenal’s future.
Don’t be surprised if we start hearing about new names, instead of the same ones we’ve been continuously served every summer such as Zaha and Partey. Arteta and Edu may throw in a surprise or two, but they have to do that whilst trying to offload the driftwood. The only deals out of the Emirates at the moment could be Chambers, Guendouzi, and Sokratis and that could free up around £50m for new faces.
Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar appears to be the latest name to surface within hours of Sanllehi’s departure but he is still involved in the Champions League after the French side despatched Manchester City in an emphatic win and consequently, won’t be cheap.
Then, there’s Roma midfielder Amadou Diawara, who could replace Thomas Partey on the shopping list as the defensive midfield option for a fraction of the price at around £18m.
I’d also start thinking less about Phillipe Coutinho after his contribution in Bayern Munich’s Champions League game against Barcelona but also because of his association with Kia Joorabchian, who may be squeezed out from his recent starring role at the club after the Sanllehi affair.
Elsewhere, Arsenal’s contract negotiator Huss Fahmy could be the next casualty at the top of the Arsenal pyramid for his involvement in the Sanllehi deals. That’s no giant loss either!