More Shake-ups at Arsenal, Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi Leaves

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Raul Sanllehi has become the latest big casualty of the ongoing organizational shake-up at Arsenal football club. The 53-year-old Spanish football administrator stepped down as the head of football operations on Saturday amid the financial crisis the club is currently battling with.

Arsenal football club has been facing a lot of internal shake-ups since Eduardo César Daud Gaspar (Edu) became the technical director of the club in 2019. The former Brazilian international and Arsenal’s star turned football administrator has vowed to change the way recruitment is being made at the club and he has been doing that wholeheartedly.

Just like other major football clubs in Europe, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected the finances of the Premier League club. Based on this, the club had no choice but to sack about 50 staff of the club. According to reports, the club is planning to make about 55 staff redundant as a more stringent response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Edu reportedly started moves to reexamine the £72 million transfer fee Arsenal paid to bring Nicholas Pepe from Lille to the club. It is reported in some quarters that Raul Sanllehi’s exit from the club could be connected to the deal which is reportedly under investigation. However, Arsenal debunked the report, saying that the club was not investigating the deal.

“Raul has made a big contribution during his time with us and will always be part of the Arsenal family,” the owners of Arsenal Stan and Josh Kroenke wrote on the club’s website. “We thank him for all his hard work and expertise and wish him every future success.”

Sanllehi joined the club as head of football relations in 2017 and was later made the head of football. He has been serving in that capacity since 2018. Before then, he was Director of Football at FC Barcelona.

Raul Sanllehi is replaced by Vinai Venkatesham

  Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi
Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi

Vinai Venkatesham has been announced as the new head of football at Arsenal. He replaced Sanllehi after spending 10 years at the club serving in different capacities and got promoted to head of football after two years of becoming the club’s managing director.

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“We have no doubt that Vinai is the right person to take the club forward”, the owners of the club Stan and Josh Kroenke said.

“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.”

On his part, the new Arsenal’s head of football said: “I am thankful to Stan, Josh, and the rest of the Arsenal Board for their trust in me. I will miss working closely with my colleague and friend Raul, but I am looking forward to this new challenge.

“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 stronger and look forward with confidence.”

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The new football structure at Arsenal

Arsenal's technical director Edu
Arsenal’s technical director Edu

In the days of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the football manager was in charge of recruitment but now, recruitment is fully under the club’s technical director Edu.

Besides that, in the new structure of the club, Edu has been made one of the strongest men at Arsenal as he is fully in charge of football operations, in and outside the club.

The new head of football Vinai will work closely with Mikel Arteta, the head coach of the team. But Arteta will focus squarely on reshaping the first team of the club while Vinai will focus majorly on the internal football structure of the club.

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