Sven Mislintat’s time at Arsenal comes to an end today. After just over a year in the job, the Gunners’ head of recruitment is seeking pastures new, with a return to Germany to join Bayern Munich rumoured.
His exit from the Emirates Stadium came as a shock to many when it was announced in January. Various reasons for his departure have been posited, but regardless of the machinations behind the end of Mislintat’s tenure, the takeaway from this situation for Arsenal remains the same: the brave new world they sought to build after the ousting of Arsene Wenger has faltered.
In the aftermath of the long-serving French manager’s exit, the entire structure of the club was remodelled and updated. Ivan Gazidis assumed the lion’s share of power, with former Barcelona suit Raul Sanllehi becoming director of football, Mislintat heading up the recruitment, and latterly, Unai Emery appointed as head coach.
The subsequent exits of Gazidis and now Mislintat have left this vision in tatters and questions as to what happens next for Arsenal must now be asked. Sanllehi now oversees all footballing operations in north London and what that means for the Gunners is something of a mystery. The grand succession plan has crumbled, and now all is more or less an unknown quantity.
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However, one real positive may be on the horizon. According to BBC Sport journalist David Ornstein – speaking on the Arseblog podcast – he believes that Roma sporting director Monchi is Arsenal’s preferred candidate to take up Mislintat’s vacant position. The well-thought of player recruitment expert, and former goalkeeper, enjoys a fine reputation in the game and has a history with Emery.
In their shared time at Sevilla, Emery and Monchi brought great success to the club, all whilst continually making big profits on star players who were then replaced with younger, unproven talents who’d become key figures themselves. With this team stocked full of Monchi-found hidden gems and youth prospects, Emery was able to lead the Spanish club to three successive Europa League triumphs. As a key figure in Sevilla’s backroom staff since 2000, Monchi also played a central role in the discovery and development of Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Ivan Rakitic and Jose Antonio Reyes, amongst many others.
Of course, Mislintat’s own directive was to find such undiscovered talents for Arsenal. Assuming the likes of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira were ‘finds’ of his, it could easily be argued that he was performing this role well. However, for whatever reason, the German could not integrate himself into the club successfully. Now it is vital that the Gunners don’t allow an issue of instability to fester within their recruitment department. Without a clear-minded and consistent approach to the scouting and signing of players, Arsenal will fail to build a team with the qualities required, and Emery won’t stand a chance.
To replace Mislintat with Monchi, a figure who Emery has recently spoken about and clearly trusts, would be very smart. This is especially true when considering the current state of the Gunners’ finances. According to The Mirror, the club will only have £40 million to spend in the upcoming summer transfer window (presumably this figure would be significantly boosted should they qualify for the Champions League).
Add that to the fact Emery confessed the club could only afford to conduct loan deals during the January window. Furthermore, Ornstein also stated that Arsenal are the only Premier League club whose owners haven’t ever invested a penny of their own money into signings – which makes it clear that the Gunners can’t look to Stan Kroenke for aid.
All this makes Arsenal’s quest for value in the transfer market increasingly desperate. The need to buy and sell well, prioritising value for money, resale value, and the potential for growth, is paramount. Monchi is a man who can help the club do that, and it may be that Sanllehi should be applauded for acting decisively to clear Mislintat out of the way and allow for the Spaniard’s arrival.
Clearly, since last summer, not everything has gone to plan for Arsenal. The fact that the club’s head of recruitment was unsettled during a transfer window is concerning. However, all is not lost. If the club can bring in Monchi as soon as possible and are then able to give Emery all the tools he needs, there will be reason for optimism once again at the Emirates Stadium.