- Sven’s exit leaves Arsenal vulnerable
- Similar replacement desperately needed
- Something stinks…
- From Arsenal 2.0 to Arsenal 1.5
Fourteen months after Sven Mislintat joined Arsenal after a nasty breakup with Dortmund, “Diamond Eye” moves on, again, after a reported breakdown. This time it’s said he was overlooked for the position of technical director at the club, which he wanted and also marginalised his current position as head of recruitment.
This is a devastating blow for Arsenal as the club’s new hierarchy – only a year or so old – crumbles into a wobbling facade of what it’s supposed to be. As I wrote a week ago, the new recruitment team of Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi are the most important people at the Emirates after the manager, and Mislintat was, with his impeccable record of talent spotting (Arsenal: Guendouzi, Torreira – Dortmund: Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembélé and more), the crucial ingredient.
Without him Arsenal are in dire need of a replacement with similar capabilities of finding cheap gems, because it’s the only way the Gunners will be successful in the transfer market – and thus on the pitch.
Essential to Arsenal’s transfer identity
Mislintat was a perfect disciple in the Arsenal executives’ religion, the “self-sustainable” transfer model: only spend what you make. Considering Arsenal’s limited transfer prowess (can only loan players this January) – a result of an inflated wage bill, being grossly underpaid from own player sales for years and no funding from its owner – having someone who can find players like Guendouzi, is what this transfer model is all about.
Additionally, Arsenal have a big summer window coming up, with Cech retiring and Ramsey leaving while Lichsteiner and Welbeck’s futures are in big doubts, and Bellerin perhaps missing the start of the season. The Gunners should have money (and youth talent) this summer to find replacements, but there isn’t much room for error if the club wants to challenge for Champions League football let alone the Premier League title.
Which makes Mislintat’s departure a curious one. Why would Arsenal directly or indirectly undermine such a valueble asset’s position and desires by promoting people around him, making his role less influential? This seems incredibly counter-intuitive for the prosperity of the club.
Was dirty politics from a set of new and ambitious leaders the reason Mislintat felt he had to leave? Was he viewed as a great scout but nothing more by the higher-ups like Sanllehi, the new managing director Vinai Venkatesham and the rest of the directors? Did Mislintat expect more from Arsenal’s transfer budget, and him leaving is a sign that the club really is in financial struggles for the forseeable future as well? Or, is Mislintat to blame? Did he expect too much power too soon? Or is he difficult to work with, which was indicated when he left Dortmund in November 2017.
We don’t really know, but something stinks. Something significant turned for the worst. As Mislintat said when he joined Arsenal:
“I’m excited for the challenge and can easily imagine myself at Arsenal, in London, for 10, 12 years as long as my family and I feel at home there.”
In the same interview, the German revealed why his relationship with then-Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel went sour, and it’s difficult not to link his reasoning then with Arsenal’s transfer difficulties and the rumours going around now:
“The trouble between Tuchel and myself was ignited over Oliver Torres from Atletico Madrid. He’s a genius in possession and I wanted to sign him. For me he’s one of the best ‘numbers eights’ with the ball, he orientates himself excellently, albeit with small weaknesses. For me, with half a year to prepare, he was the perfect Ilkay Gundogan replacement.”
From Arsenal 2.0 to 1.5
Arsenal have a scouting void to fill, fast. The Gunners used to lean on Arsène Wenger and his scouts’ talent to discover young (usually French) players for him to develop into stars. Since December 2017, the club changed everything and a combination of Sanllehi’s contacts and communication skills and Mislintat’s super effective statistical research and intuition was relied upon.
With Wenger and Mislintat Arsenal had a clear vision – and an “eye” – for recruitment. That’s not the case at the moment. The Gunners have to fill the void with adequate talent and vision, or else businessmen will be in charge of the club’s transfer policy and dealings.
The Gunners did a good job constructing their Arsenal 2.0 project but Mislintat’s departure, for whatever reason, sets it back to Arsenal 1.5. A big blow as the new Arsenal starting taking shape. And I can’t help but think that having “Diamond Eye” for just another summer would give the club another couple of great signings and reassure the future of the club and Emery’s Arsenal a little more.