Raul Sanllehi’s Departure Is Exactly What Mikel Arteta & Arsenal Needed

Raul Sanllehi, once affectionately referred to as a 'don' by Arsenal fans, is no longer employed by the club.

The club's former head of football left north London on Saturday, and while we'll all hold fond memories of Arsenal winning the transfer window in the summer of 2019, his departure is great news for manager Mikel Arteta.

After just over two years at the club, Sanllehi was let go with Vinai Venkatesham remaining the managing director. It looks as though Arsenal won't be directly replacing the Spaniard as they plan on changing their management structure in order to 'streamline their leadership' and give Arteta more power.

Sanllehi joined Arsenal in 2018, having previously worked as Barcelona's director of football. He was brought in as part of Ivan Gazidis' 'catalyst for change' plan alongside Sven Mislintat after Arsene Wenger's departure in 2018 - a plan that drastically failed.

Sanllehi and Mislintat didn't get on. The sour relationship led to the scout's departure, and it was just one of a number of examples of the Spaniard proving difficult to work with - another being his anger at club legend David O'Leary's appointment to the Gunners' board.

Combined with him regularly taking matters into his own hands without the blessing of the owners, according to The Athletic, his role became untenable.

Just weeks before Sanllehi's departure, Arsenal made around 55 redundancies due to financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A large number of these redundancies came in the scouting department, with Francis Cagigao - who unearthed Cesc Fabregas, Gabriel Martinelli and Hector Bellerin - among them.

Cagigao's departure is both worrying and seismic. He had been one of Arsenal's most senior scouts for over 20 years and his exit suggests that the Gunners are going to move from a scout-led recruitment system to a contact-based approach.

Sanllehi was a major catalyst in pushing for this change, so now with him gone, the future of Arsenal's transfer policy is up in the air.

David Ornstein has suggested Sanllehi's exit won't impact much of Arsenal's policy for the immediate future, as the majority of the deals that are currently being negotiated were put in motion by the Spaniard himself. Contract negotiations with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as the potential moves for Thomas Partey and Gabriel Magalhaes were all primarily dealt with by him.

Now, on to Edu, Arsenal's technical director is their main man when it comes to transfers. He is just as well connected in the world of football as Sanllehi, due to his time as Brazil's 'general coordinator', and as an ex-Arsenal player he's far more appreciated and trusted by the fans.

Edu and Arteta will now be working together to sort out transfers - the Spaniard identifying the kinds of players he wants, and Edu using his extensive book of contacts to choose players to target, and get the deals done. It seems like good strategy from Arsenal.

The process should be a lot easier and quicker, and it will mean that Arteta gets players that perfectly fit his tactical style. He will be much more than a 'head coach' now and should be able to build a team in his image, something that can only be good for the Gunners and their manager.

Arteta has a big rebuild job on his hands at Arsenal. He has sacrificed the tactical style he wants to implement in order to get results with his current group of players.

This has meant they have been much harder to break down and have relied on the pace in their side, something that has proven relatively successful against the bigger sides like Manchester City and Chelsea. But he wants to create a team that can control games from start to finish, and this Arsenal side cannot currently do that.

The Gunners have already brought in Willian on a free transfer from Chelsea, but a busy transfer window is expected in order for Arteta to implement his philosophy.

The Gunners desperately need a centre back - with Magalhaes looking the most likely to come in - as well as a creative midfielder. Negotiations are ongoing with Real Madrid about the return of Dani Ceballos next season - something Arsenal should definitely pursue - and with Atletico for Partey. Both of those transfers, alongside the addition of Gabriel, could be exactly what Arteta needs to push Arsenal into the Premier League's top four race.

The Spaniard has shown he is the man to take Arsenal back into the Champions League. His tactical nouse and man-management skills have been evident since his appointment. Now with the departure of Sanllehi, the north London club will show even more faith in Arteta, giving him more control over transfers and a solid management structure to work with.

On face value, Sanllehi's departure seems to be another example of shambolic planning by those at the top at Arsenal. He has had so much control at the club that he has transformed their recruitment set up completely, just for him to leave as it nears completion.

However, when you look at the move in more detail and depth, the Spaniard's departure looks like a good outcome for both the club and Mikel Arteta himself. It simplifies their managerial structure, as well as giving the manager the power he needs to improve this Arsenal team.

Source : 90min