Tag Archives: Sven Mislintat

Napoli, Christopher Nkunku and Sven Mislintat


Tonight is the tough Europa League tie against Napoli.

The two sides faced each other in the Champions League back in 2013/14. Arsenal won the home game 2-0, Napoli the away game by the same scoreline.

Napoli are much improved since then and are comfortably the second best team in Italy behind Juventus.

Keeping a clean sheet will be just as important for Arsenal as scoring a goal tonight. A 0-0 is just a good a result as a 2-1 win with away goals still relevant in the Europa League (although no longer relevant in the Champions League).

Napoli have never beaten an English side away from home in Europe. There record reads P8 W0 D1 L7.

It will be a tough game tonight.

Christopher Nkunku

Arsenal target Christopher Nkunku has reportedly turned down a new contract with PSG.

The French youngster’s current deal runs out in 2020, opening the door for Arsenal to secure their man this summer for a reduced fee.

Back in January Arsenal were heavily linked with Nkunku for around £15million. Talk this morning is that it could take up to £30million to bring the versatile midfielder to London. This is vastly exaggerated taking into account his contract situation.

With Aaron Ramsey leaving in the summer, Arsenal are on the look out for someone who can replace his versatility and high energy game.

In January the club took Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona with an option to buy him for £17.3 million at the end of the season. The Spaniard has struggled to break through at Arsenal and reports are the club have gone cold on moving for him in the summer.

This would leave Nkunku was the number one target to replace Aaron Ramsey at Arsenal – as long as the price is right.

The 21-year-old Frenchman will add something different to Ramsey going forward.

He is not quite as technical as Ramsey, but he is better at driving forward with the ball. He will certainly offer a different option if we are unable to pass our way through a team.

Nkunku’s versatility is also key.

This season he has played central midfield, behind the striker, on the wings and at right back for PSG. Being on the bench, he would offer Emery plenty of different options depending on the game situation.

This is one deal I expect us to get over the line this summer.

Sven Mislintat

Earlier this year “transfer guru” Sven Mislintat left Arsenal after just 14 months as Head of Recruitment.

Speculation was rife as to the reason for his departure.

Some said it was due to a falling out between himself and Raul Sanllehi, others said he felt marginalised due to Unai Emery’s growing influence. Some pointed to disagreements between himself and his scouts, whilst others talked about his frustration about transfer targets being over looked. Ultimately it was the most logical reason that was true.

Mislintat applied for Arsenal’s Technical Director role and was quickly rejected. Mislintat was unhappy, felt he was ready to step up to a more senior role, and resigned.

It happens all over the country in all industries.

An employee applies for an internal vacancy which will be a promotion, gets rejected, so looks for similar roles elsewhere.

The reason for the rejection was Mislintat lacked experience as a Technical Director – he had spent his entire career involved in scouting. It would have been a risk for a club the size of Arsenal to appoint someone who had no experience in such a big role.

Arsenal wanted someone who had done the job before, hence the approach for Spanish technical director Monchi.

Again you see this up and down the country in all industries.

Big companies often poach CEO’s, Managing Director’s or other high ranking staff from other companies rather than promote from within, unless the person within is only making a small promotion step.

Due to lack of experience, when Mislintat went out to the market, he probably found himself rejected by a lot of big clubs. The likes of Manchester United – also looking for a footballing director – were not interested. So he had to lower the standard of club he was targeting.

This had led him to take up the role of Sporting Director at VfB Stuggart.

Like many, due to lack of experience, Mislintat has had to take a role at a smaller club. A bit like someone taking a bigger role at a smaller company. The idea being that he then gains the experience at a smaller club, and then when a similar role at someone like Bayern Munich comes up, he will have the experience on his CV.

Stuttgart are currently in the Bundesliga relegation zone, which highlights just how low Mislintat has had to look to get the position he wants.



Sven Going: What now for Arsenal’s Recruitment?

The news we all knew was coming broke yesterday that Arsenal Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat was to leave the club.

Mislintat was an excellent appointment. He seemed to fit the mould of where the club is right now.

At Borussia Dortmund he oversaw a scouting department which excelled in finding fairly unknown gems from mid table sides or young players struggling for a break through. From Ousmane Dembélé to Marco Rues, Emre Mor to Shinji Kagawa. He was clearly good at his job.

Dortmund are currently 6 points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga. This is hugely to do with their excellent recruitment policy, which Mislintat oversaw before leaving for Arsenal in 2017.

Saying that, he was just one piece of the jigsaw when he was at Dortmund.

He does not scout every player. He did not unearth every gem. He worked with a network of scouts across Europe and beyond who would recommend players to him. He will then make the decision whether they were worth a closer look, and perusing.

To put it simply, he was not the only person involved in Dortmund’s intelligent recruitment process, although he did head up the department.

Likewise at Arsenal, in the year he has been here, we have seen some good players join. Namely Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.

Both players fit the Mislintat mould.

Torreira was very well known, performing well in a mid-table Serie A team. Many in Italy rated the Uruguayan as one of the top 3 defensive midfielders in Italy last season.

He was not an unknown, but he certainly was not well known outside of Serie A watchers.

Likewise Guendouzi was playing in Ligue 2 in France prior to us signing him. He has come out of nowhere.

However Mislintat would not have “discovered” these players on his own. That is not how scouting works. And certainly not the Head of Recruitment’s role.

As Head of Recruitment, it was Mislintat’s job to oversee his network of scouts, employ them, manage them. He would then run the final rule over a player prior to recommending him to the powers that be.

By the time a Head of Recruitment sees a player, the local scout might have already watched him a dozen times or more.

Back under Arsene Wenger, it was always known when Arsenal were heavily interested in a player as Steve Rowley would turn up to watch him. This was often seen as the final scouting mission prior to making a decision whether to buy or not.

Mislintat was the same. He would not have watched every single player. He was not down Hackney Marshes looking for the gems himself. He had a network of scouts, mainly mean and women who had been at Arsenal for some time.

He also had his own contacts. Agents. Freelance scouts. People who would recommend players to him.

He was certainly not a Nowhere Man.

For whatever reason, Mislintat decided to hand in his two weeks notice. There has been plenty of speculation as to why he did this.

He felt pushed to the side when Raul Sanllehi took over from Ivan Gazidis, and was unhappy about the Spaniard looking to recruit a Technical Director. He had a falling out with Arsenal’s existing scouting network, unhappy that they were (in his eyes) not doing what he was demanding. That he was homesick. After 15 years at Dortmund and a lifetime living in the city, he decided to try out a new job, with a new company, in a new country. It did not work out.

An interesting theory I have read made up is that he actually had a restrictive covenants clause in his contract with Borussia Dortmund which stipulated that if he left the club, he was unable to work for another German club for 12 months. That the plan was always to join Bayern Munich, but he has to park himself somewhere for a year before making the move.

Whatever the reason, he is now going, and like everything Arsenal related, it has become huge news.

The fact that no one can name who the Chief Scout of Head of Recruitment at Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United or Liverpool sums it up. Who does the job at Juventus, Monaco, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid or Bayern Munich? The fact is, no one could name who their “Sven Mislintat” is, yet they are hugely successful clubs who have recruited well over the years.

Hell, look at Sampdoria.

They found Lucas Torreira somewhere in Uruguay, bought him to Italy and he became a superstar. Who was the guy who did that? I have no idea.

The point I am making is that good recruitment is beyond one man. It is a team effort. From boots on the ground to the negotiating team. It is more than just one man.

Whilst Mislintat might have been one of the best, he is not the only top end Head of Recruitment of Chief Scout out there. He is not the only man with a track record of recruiting talented players whilst working on a budget.

Francis Cagigao is one man who has been heavily linked with Mislintat’s old role overnight.

Cagigao is a former Arsenal youth player. Despite his name, he was born and bred in London, the son of Spanish parents, winning the FA Youth Cup with the club in 1988.

For a long time he was Arsenal’s man in Spain and has been working with the club for over 20 years.

The first player he recommended to the club was Lauren.  He has also been credited with being involved in the recruitment of Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Jose Antonio Reyes and Fran Merida.

In 2017, he was promoted to Head of International Recruitment following interest from clubs in Spain.

An exclusive in the Evening Standard back in 2017, suggested Arsenal were considering him for a new role as their sporting director.

Sanllehi has been looking to recruit a Technical Director for some time. It is a role that could incorporate the majority of roles undertaken by a Head of Recruitment, or he might decide to keep the roles separate, promoting Cagigao to Head of Recruitment and then going out and getting in a Technical Director.

One thing that is for certain, Arsenal were a success before Mislintat – both on the pitch and in recruiting players – and we will be a success after.

Our fans just have a habit of making a mountain out of a molehill.


The white noise surrounding Sven Mislintat’s impending departure

Yesterdays Twitter rumours over Sven Mislintat’s future at Arsenal became a bit more real overnight with the ever reliable David Ornstein reporting on the situation for the BBC.

We were very much fence sitters yesterday. There seemed to be plenty of evidence that the rumours were true, but also enough question marks over the rumours to doubt them. It is now quite clear, Mislintat is leaving Arsenal.

What is now swilling round are the rumours as to why he is leaving. Every story in the media gives a different reason:

  • David Ornstein reports it is due to him being over looked for the Technical Director role
  • Miguel Delaney of the Independent says it was a breakdown of relations between himself and Raul Sanllehi – that Mislintat put forward some strong recommendations for players that have not been followed up
  • Over at the Express, Matt Law writes that he is unhappy that Unai Emery is taking a much more hands-on role to recruitment
  • We then have the handful of outlets that are running with the Bayern Munich story. That the German giants have approached him to head up their recruitment team
  • Ralph Honigsten of ESPN go’s similar to Delaney, that Mislintat is unhappy Sanllehi wants to use his network of contacts while Mislintat prefers a data/stats approach
  • There is another story that I read that Mislintat  found Arsenal’s existing network of scouts hard to work with
  • Finally some have gossiped that there has been a big falling out between Mislintat and Emery – similar as to what happened with Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund

The truth is, no one really seems to know why he is leaving and the gossip is more damaging to Arsenal than Mislintat leaving.

Arsenal fans have a habit of trying to create sides. From Wenger to Ozil, Ramsey to Emery, there seems to be a group of fans constantly talking about the extremes, not understanding that there is a middle ground where the majority sit.

We have just got through one civil war, if fans do not behave themselves we could go into another.

People blaming Emery or Sanllehi for Mislintat’s potential departure need to stop. aiming anger at the men who are remaining at the club is just damaging. Especially as that anger is based on rumours, not fact.

Lets remember that Sven interviewed Emery, so they all knew where they stood when it came to hierarchy and dealing with transfers. Likewise the rumours about him being passed over for technical director in favour of Edu are just rumours.

it also needs to be remembered that Mislintat and Sanllehi have a history of working at different ends of the market.

Mislintat unearths gems. The likes of Shinji Kagawa and Ousmane Dembélé, whilst Sanllehi  is comfortable dealing with the biggest names, their egos and their agents. There clearly is space for both of them to operate within the club, working different ends of the market.

My theory on the reasons behind Mislintat leaving are simple ones. they are human ones.

Mislintat was employed by Borussia Dortmund for 12 years. He had lived in and around the city all his life. At the age of 45, he left the city of his birth for a new job, a new country. This is a huge challenge.

I work in recruitment. You would be surprised how many CVs I see for senior staff who have been at a company for over a decade, and then have had 2 or 3 jobs in the next 2 or 3 years.

They left their life long company for whatever reason, and usually find that the grass is not greener at the new company. that the culture is not for them or the job not exactly what they wanted.

It is not unusual for new hirers to quit within their first year. It often happens a lot sooner than that. Hence why recruiters have rebate schemes for if a new hirer leaves within the first 6 months.

So would it be too much of a stretch to think that Mislintat struggled to settle at a new club, in a new city, in a new country? That perhaps he “gave it a go”. Was unhappy middle of last year, decided to give it to the end of the year and has now decided to move back to Germany.

He would not be the first person to try out working in another country, only to realise it is not for them and move back home.

Working at a football club is no different to working at any other company. It happens all the time. A company employs a new Sales Director from a rival firm where they were successful for 10 years. That new employee lasts barely a year before moving on again.

Look around you this morning. At your colleagues. At your friends. How many jobs have they had? How many moved job, only to be moving again a year later.

It happens regularly in the world of work.

I would be disappointed if Mislintat left. I really bought in to the trio of management. Mislintat leading the recruitment, Emery the coaching and Sanllehi the commercial and overall club vision. It would be a kick in the teeth after everything that has gone on over the last 12 months to lose a key man before the new era has properly got started.

However we move on. He is one man. One man who has been at the club for a little over 12 months. Arsenal were a success before Mislintat, and will be a success after.

We as fans have a habit of making a bigger deal out of things than they are. Only Arsenal could make headline news out of the Head Scout leaving.

After recent poor results and the news that “we have no money” it will feel to some fans that the club is a mess. That the bad news keeps coming.

My advice – take a step away. Remember that it is the football on the pitch, the beers with your mates that matters most. We do have an obsession with what is happening off the pitch.