Our transfer dealings thus far in January have been interesting. Not just for the player we have signed (and those that we have sold) but for the way we have operated.
In the past, Arsene Wenger has been kingmaker when it comes to transfers. Heavily involved in deciding who he wants, how much he wants to pay, and what agents he wants to deal with.
This has led us to miss out on transfer targets in the past as he dithers over deals and shown a tendency to walk away rather than negotiate.
The signing of Henrik Mkhitaryan and the potential deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang show a change in the way Arsenal do their transfers.
Now I am not naive to think that Wenger has had nothing to do with these signings. As manager he needs to sign off on the deals, he needs to want the players, he needs to be working alongside those doing the deals to ensure the right players are coming in to fit into HIS squad.
But whilst Wenger has said yes to Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang, he has left the deals to be thrashed out by others.
Out in Dortmund to negotiate the deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was new Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat, Huss Fahmy – Contracts, Legal & Commercial Expert – and Ivan Gazidis; whatever he does.
It is a move away from previous negotiations which would often see Gazidis and the now unemployed Dick Law be joined by Arsene Wenger.
The fact that Wenger is staying at home – and preparing the team for the League Cup game against Chelsea – shows that some of his job roles have been taken away, and the grip on the club loosened.
Henrik Mkhitaryan was also an interesting deal.
His agent is Mino Raiola. The Italian “Super Agent” who also represents the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has a reputation for demanding huge fees and moving his clients between clubs at regular intervals – and making money every step of the way.
He is the type of man Arsenal have refused to do business with in the past.
Back in the day, David Dein used to refuse to pay any agents fees (unless the agent was his son). Arsene Wenger is over the same thought process, that agents are a leach on the game who get paid huge amounts by clubs to bring players in. In the past, Wenger would not have dealt with Raiola.
As much as “Super Agents” are a cockroach within the game, they are now a key part of the transfer process. Major clubs now need to accept that they need to deal with these people.
It is interesting the shift in mentality at the club that Arsenal were now willing to deal with Raiola. You have to think this was a decision made above Wenger, by Gazidis, Kroenke, on the advice of other new incoming members of staff.
Raul Sanllehi does not join the club until February, but coming from Barcelona, he has had plenty of dealings with these agents that previously the club would refuse to work with. He had potentially given the nod for the club to deal with Raiola before he has even started.
The future will also be interesting once Sanllehi joins. It potentially means no more Gazidis at the negotiating table, as Sanllehi will be Head of Football Relations and surely deal with the footballing side of the club, leaving Gazidis to deal with the commercial activities.
The dream team of Sanllehi, Mislintat & Fahmy will lead future transfer negotiations – leaving Arsene Wenger to a side.
It shows a shift in policy, and the club preparing for Wexit.