This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
So after a disappointing end to the campaign saw the club miss out on a lucrative return to the glitz and glamour of the Champions League, Arsenal head into the opening game of the new season with a sense of optimism and bounce.
Unai Emery’s side had one of the more fruitful transfer windows of any side in the Premier League, and addressed several concerning issues from last season. A new winger, box-to-box midfielder, left-back and centre-back were on the agenda, and all were signed, sealed and delivered come the end of deadline day. One of the key changes in the Gunners’ surprising new efficiency? The willingness to do deals with notorious ‘super agents’.
It was one of the defining features of Arsene Wenger’s reign that the north London side refrained from getting into the dark arts of negotiating with powerful agents and representatives. There was a certain aversion to wanting to get into bed with individuals who reeked of a selfishness and money-hungry nature. It was perhaps one of the biggest reasons behind why clients of the likes of Mino Raiola, Jorge Mendes and Kia Joorabchian never really got a look in at the Emirates.
But with Wenger and Gazidis’ departure, in came new Head of Football Raul Sanllehi – the mastermind behind Barcelona’s move for Brazil superstar Neymar. Reports in recent weeks had suggested the Gunners were far more open to getting in touch with ‘super agents’ this summer and it was claimed the side’s club-record deal for Nicolas Pepe was smoothed over by Mendes. Then, on deadline day, when the Gunners were frantically scrambling around for a centre-back, in came Chelsea’s David Luiz, a client of Joorabchian.
Wenger’s rather holier-than-thou principle of refusing to do business with the likes of Mendes and Joorabchian was outdated. The modern world of football revolves around connections and contacts, and Sanllehi certainly has that in his resume. So when the Gunners look back on a pivotal summer transfer window, the most defining statement will be the moment where they reconciled with the new era of super agents, and all that it entails.