How will Raul Sanllehi's sacking effect Arsenal's transfer plans?
By Rob Worthington (Senior Writer)
It'd be fair to say that few expected to receive the news on Saturday that Raul Sanllehi had been given his marching orders at Arsenal. Our divisive former head of football was a man who appeared to be the figure who would lead us forward for the foreseeable future.
Instead, Sanllehi has been shifted, Vinai Venkatesham has been promoted, while Edu Gaspar and Mikel Arteta will take greater control of footballing matters. Right now, it doesn't seem a direct replacement for 'Don Raul' will be arriving in North London any time soon. Reports over the last few years have suggested Sanllehi is something of a smooth operator when it comes to transfer dealings. So, it was all the more surprising to see him sacked given the fact we're in the middle of a crucial Summer transfer window. It seems a huge onus will be placed on Huss Fahmy's shoulders to force through transfer deals.
For those of you who don't know of Fahmy (pictured above), he is our current contract negotiation specialist. He will now be tasked with brokering agreements to bring in and sell players at Arsenal. This is the beginning of a huge rebuilding process as Arsenal so the importance of Fahmy's promotion cannot be understated. He has to deliver. Such matters were usually dealt with by Sanllehi in the past, so it'll be interesting to see how effective Fahmy is in this role. In terms of potential incomings at Arsenal, little to nothing will change this Summer. We already had a list of targets ahead of this window and it's unlikely any names will be added to that list in the coming weeks. Regardless, this was never Sanllehi's main job. The Spaniard is thought never to have been majorly involved regarding Arsenal's talent spotting, despite having a heavy influence upon transfers. In the future, yes, change will occur. Of course, Sanllehi's opinion concerning our transfer targets won't matter at all. Venkatesham's statement yesterday morning very much inferred conundrums regarding player purchasing, player sales and contracts will now be placed under the jurisidiction of Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar. In theory, such a move should eradicate our recently adopted agent-centered approach towards recruitment.
However, I wouldn't bet on Kia Joorabchian disappearing from the scene completely at Arsenal. Edu still holds a strong working relationship with the super-agent, so there may yet still be hope with regard to using our contacts with him to pursue a potential deal to bring Philippe Coutinho to Arsenal. Thus, a reliance on agents may still exist at Arsenal. Perhaps just not to the same extent as it did under Sanllehi. Where we may falter due to the sacking of Sanllehi is in the market of big-money transfers. The Spaniard was willing to use any medium possible in order to gain the signature of top quality footballers, as shown by the reportedly sketchy business involved in bringing Nicolas Pépé to the Emirates Stadium. It’s likely Arsenal will be now less reluctant to work with ‘intermediaries’, which does tend to make huge transfer deals less viable. In spite of all this, my hopes remain high for this Summer’s transfer window. Under Mikel Arteta, a move to Arsenal is representative of an attractive proposition for most footballers so we should still be able to make movements in the market even if we no longer have Sanllehi’s charm on our side. Yes, there’s a chance we might miss out on a few deals, but this is far from a certainty. If we have money available to us, frankly, negotiations shouldn’t be much of an issue.
It seems that things may be a tad chaotic behind the scenes at Arsenal right now. Nonetheless, removing Sanllehi from his powerful position was the right move. His tactics in the transfer market did not match up with the class and tradition of Arsenal Football Club. So, I’m glad to see the back of him.
In spite of Sanllehi's exit, Edu’s statements after the signing of Willian suggest this will be far from a quiet window for Arsenal in terms of incomings and outgoings. I expect Sanllehi’s sacking will inflict little change on this front. Only time will tell just how effective we are in the transfer market without him.