Are We Underestimating the Departure of Sven Mislintat?


Mislintat, famous for his scouting work at Borussia Dortmund, was hired by Arsenal in November 2017 to bring his “diamond eye” talents to the Emirates. This was during the midst of Arsene Wenger’s lackluster final season, and former CEO Ivan Gazidis was trying to shape a backroom staff for a post-Wenger era.

At first, he seemed like the perfect fit for Arsenal’s “self-sustaining model”, in which our transfer budgets are lower than most of our competitors. He was the one who was going to find diamonds in the rough, players that were young and could get for cheap. He is credited with finding many of the great Dortmund players we think of in recent times: Lewandowski, Hummels, Ousmane Dembele, Pulisic, Aubameyang, Kagawa, and many more.

And for a while everything was going great, he helped in recruiting Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan come to Arsenal due to his Dortmund connections, which at the time was great business for the club given the departure of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin, and Gabriel during that window. He also brought in Mavropanos, a player who has not proven himself yet at Arsenal but has all the potential to do so.

He continued his success from the January transfer window and led the charge to sign Leno, Torreira, Guendouzi, Lichsteiner, and Sokratis in the summer window. Although Lichsteiner was a complete failure, it was a low-risk deal due to his free transfer. But the others have turned out to be great signings. Leno, Torreira, and Guendouzi have proven themselves to be bright young players who look to be part of Arsenal’s future, while Sokratis was a necessary stopgap for the center of defense. This business was all done for a relatively cheap total cost with a similar budget to this summer transfer window, and was all mostly done by this time last year.

But once Gazidis and Wenger left and Raul Sanllehi became the “go-to” guy in the upper management, there was a falling out after the January transfer window and Mislintat left in February of this year. Some speculate a tipping point was the signing of Denis Suarez, which he did not approve of (and seems totally right about now).

Now we fast-forward to this summer and Arsenal look like a total mess in the market. All we can show for is a 18 year old Brazilian kid who played in the Brazil’s fourth division, and some rejected bids for Zaha and Tierney. It looks like talents of Mislintat are greatly missed, as scouting doesn’t seem to be a strength of Arsenal anymore. Raul and Edu seem to be recruiting through a relationship-based system, knowing agents and players in Europe and now in South America due to Edu’s ties to Brazil. Francis Cagigao was promoted to lead the club’s scouting network, but it is concerning that Arsenal haven’t tried to find a replacement for Mislintat due to the importance of cost-effective recruitment for a club like us.

Arsenal following a “Dortmund model” really appealed to me, it seemed to be a realistic and efficient way of finding a way to compete with the big-spending clubs of the Premier League. We caught a glimpse of that last summer and I was excited, but this summer we are just seeing a mess. We are trying to get players that are young and on the cheaper side, but we aren’t finding any success with it. I truly think Mislintat was the one who got away, a special person that Arsenal should’ve treasured more than they did.

My Twitter is @thebostongooner.

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