Arsenal part ways with head of football Raul Sanllehi

Arsenal have announced that head of football Raul Sanllehi is leaving the club. The former Barcelona director was appointed by the Gunners in November 2017 as head of football relations before being promoted following the departure of Ivan Gazidis.
“Vinai Venkatesham, our current managing director, will lead us going forward,” the club said in a statement announcing Sanllehi’s exit.
The decision comes amid a move to streamline Arsenal’s behind-the-scenes structure, partly influenced by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the club announce plans to make 55 non-playing staff redundant and led to the departure of figures in the scouting department, including long-time recruitment specialist Francis Cagigao.
Owners Stan Kroenke and son Josh said: “Raul has made a big contribution during his time with us and will always be part of the Arsenal family. We thank him for all his hard work and expertise and wish him every future success.
“We have no doubt that Vinai is the right person to take the club forward. He has shown outstanding leadership during the current crisis and is held in high regard internally and externally.
“We know everyone will rally round him so we can move forward successfully.”
Venkatesham joined Arsenal in 2010 and served as chief commercial officer prior to the restructuring behind the scenes that came after Gazidis left in 2018, when he became managing director.
“I will miss working closely with my colleague and friend Raul, but I am looking forward to this new challenge,” he said.
“There is much work to do to return Arsenal to the top of the game where we belong, which is what our fans rightly demand.
“While this will not happen overnight, I believe we have many of the critical ingredients to do so. There are many positives to build on across the club. While football faces uncertainties ahead as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am confident Arsenal will emerge strongly and look forward with confidence.”
Sanllehi, who described Arsenal as a “true footballing institution”, said: “I am proud to have been part of its history and I thank Stan and Josh Kroenke for this opportunity.
“Working with Vinai, we have built a top team for the future. Mikel [Arteta] has made an extremely positive impact since his arrival [as head coach] and has formed a strong team with our technical director, Edu.
“The academy is in very safe hands with Per [Mertesacker], and Huss Fahmy is a talented and highly-capable leader of our football operations. Personally, I now look forward to taking some time off and spending time with family and friends before setting to work on a new challenge and cheering Arsenal on to great things.”
Sanllehi’s tenure in Arsenal did not go without some strong criticism of his operations, especially from former players of the club.
Former team captain, Tony Adams, identified the problems at Arsenal and its recruitment policy before Sanllehi sacking by slamming the former Barcelona man for being out of his depth.
The Gunners appointed the Spaniard in 2018 in their bid to get better off the pitch, especially in player recruitment. He had been in charge of overseeing the club’s decision making from that time, but as they looked to rebuild following over 20 years under the management of Arsene Wenger, they have fired him.
Mikel Arteta is now the club’s manager, and he has shown that he can actually deliver the goods when backed properly. The club is keen to make sure that the Spaniard succeeds and they are restructuring the around him.
The sacking is expected to hand Arteta more control over transfers and Adams had recently come out to slam Raul and Edu by claiming that they were out of their depth, especially in terms of recruitment
He previously told Alan Brazil and former teammate Ray Parlour on TalkSPORT: “My fundamental issue is with recruitment. I think the club is going through such a recruitment issue at the moment.
“Relying on agents is not the way to go. It’s not Arsenal DNA I’m afraid. I don’t like it. I’ve got to say it publicly.
“Edu, I love him. He’s a beautiful man, a lovely man and it’s not personal, but he has no experience of building European squads.
“Even Raul Sanllehi, he came from Barcelona where all the money in the world, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get money here! Those people are kind of out of their depth, I’m sorry.
“They need to build a fantastic squad that challenges for the league, and it hurts.”

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