Arsenal ditch disgraceful leadership of Raul Sanllehi, now what? (long read)

by .

Well, there we are Arsenal fans. I’ve campaigned on Raul Sanllehi for about a year now, and finally, the club has acted and moved him on with a beautiful ‘mutual consent’ parting of ways. A staged exit works best for everyone in this situation.

It wasn’t just me, Arseblog, Gunnerblog, and Amy Lawrence all played a role in raising deep concerns about the way the club was run. I didn’t run my stories blindly, lots of information was fed my way about where to look. There was absolute horror at Arsenal about the way things were being run. Someone who had worked for Arsenal messaged me this last year after reading this post.

‘Last post = spot on. Sven warned everyone….’

That wasn’t the only leak. Lots of good people left the club and I have no doubt their exit interviews helped contribute to this most excellent culmination of a miserable chapter in Arsenal’s history.

So what went wrong for Raul?

He was a chancer. It’s as simple as that. He wormed his way into Ivan Gs ear as a fixer of deals. He wasn’t a leader, he didn’t have a vision, he had no clue how to run a professional football club. When you don’t know how to do something, what do you do? You look to other people to help you make decisions. In this case, Raul didn’t look internally, he looked to the deeply seedy world of super-agents.

I extensively covered some of the deals that looked wasteful yesterday, and there were lots of them. Nicolas Pepe played at a club with a murky structure, part run by one of his ex-colleagues, and we dropped an outrageous fee that didn’t line up with reality. Unai Emery told the press it was his agent that put him on the list to replace Arsene Wenger, Emery joined up with that agent just before he landed the job. The Luiz deal was disgusting. Agents were reportedly injected into the Leno deal. The Iwobi deal also had agents injected per The Athletic. Our Technical Director came from a favoured agent. We then used Edu’s agent to bring in Cedric Soares in January and we just inked Willian.

You don’t need to be a Clifford Chance partner to see potential glaring conflicts of interest that have come from our deals.

Nothing we did looked data-driven and lots of our deals looked very much in support of people Raul liked versus being in support of a better Arsenal.

I’ve pondered if he’d have survived if he’d delivered us Champions League or there wasn’t a pandemic. I don’t think so. I think the disgust at his modus operandi at Arsenal was becoming problematic for KSE. At the end of the day, he was wasting frugal billionaires money. I said months ago, you don’t make rich people look like mugs. I wrote at the time the hiring of Tim Lewis was ominous. He is one of the few trusted confidants the Kroenke’s have in London. From what I’m told, he asked all departments to give him information on their budgets and deals… then he landed on Raul’s department.

I honestly thought it would take longer, but average operators are often sloppy and I can’t imagine the paper trail of his decisions made for smart reading. If bloggers can see what is going on, can you imagine how easy it must have been for an elite lawyer who is an Arsenal fan to get to the bottom of the issues? Tim Lewis was appointed to Arsenal July 1st, by August 15th, Raul is out the door. That is incredibly efficient work that tells you Raul was not the sharpest tool in the box.

So where do we go from here?

Well, you should be fucking excited. 10 months ago we were looking over the wreckage of what Raul had done to Arsenal. We had Unai Emery bumbling on TV, we had a broken squad of uncoachables, we had a shit scouting setup, and there was no hope for our future.

Fast-forward to now and we are starting to looking like an actual football club. Our broken football process is dead. With Raul goes outsourced scouting, shit recommendations, and horrible management of our precious money.

We have one of the brightest young coaches in the world. He could be generational. He LOVES Arsenal and he’ll treat the club like it was his own.

The fans are united around the direction of the club. There’s no divide because there’s no divisive characters at the club now.

We’ve won an FA Cup. We have Europe next season. There will be a direction.

We are still skint, nothing will change that, but we now know that the same mistakes won’t be made moving forward.

Every decision will come from a good place, all in the name of a better Arsenal.

Vinai is now running Arsenal football club. He’s barely 40. I am extremely jealous of his achievements here. I’m told that he’s straight as they come and moving him up is a good thing. Split leadership was always a fucking joke, Netlfix share price dropped on news they were trying it. VV needs to hold everyone accountable to a high standard. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have a football background, you don’t need one to run an organization properly. Look at the mess Raul left and he was brought in because he got the game.

I’ve no idea what happens to Huss Fahmy. The guy inking contracts for all these agents and hangers-on must be worried right about now, but we’ll see.

The football side is all with Edu. I don’t think the concern with the Brazilian is that he’s up to no good, I think it’s that he might not be very good at Technical Direction. Some say that he’s been in Raul’s shadow. Whatever is going on, he’ll now have to be on his sharpest game, and he’ll have to prove that he knows what the fuck is going on. It’s a chance for him to shine and make some magic this summer.

Kia J must be feeling sheepish this morning. No doubt his embarrassing carry-on in the media added to the troubles for Raul. To have a super-agent brazenly share news on impending structural change at the club and then to slag off Sven was the inmates running the asylum type stuff. It was also a direct power challenge to the owners. Moving forward, Arsenal has to control super-agent influence. Any fees have to be signed off by a neutral party or a committee of sorts. We have to bring rigor to an ugly but necessary part of the business.

There are a number of people that are worried that this summer of recruitment will be run by Mikel Arteta and Edu. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Arsenal didn’t fire all their scouts and end up with nothing. There is plenty of talent still at the club that can help with that side of things. I’ve no doubt that Arteta will have more of a leadership role now, but he’s not literally scouting players on his own. I’d also not worry about the fixer issues. What did Raul’s ‘fixing’ bring to the table? More complication. He added layers where they weren’t needed, he paid over the odds time and time again, and he allowed the decision-making process to be swayed by outside influences. Why would we miss that? We need to do things by the book and we need to be perceived as straight-shooters.

What I am interested in is how the profile of player changes. Arsenal shouldn’t be signing players like Willian, we should be finding 22 years olds that can become the next Willian. I want to see us looking at the right names, the club should shift focus to where the game is going, not where it has failed. Barcelona vs Bayern was a choose your own adventure for the future of football. Do you invest heavily in young talent for the future and base your decisions on data harvested by experts mapped to a vision? Or do you ignore your scouting department and throw money at big names recommended by super-agents like Barcelona have? No one doubts the talent at Barca, but the lack of coherent planning has led to some of the most wasteful years in their history.

I’d rather have a squad that looks like that of Bayern and Leipzig, bustling with young talent, explosive power, athleticism, and outrageous technical skills. I would like to bring in clever players that can understand complex systems and execute them with precision. That is where the game is heading. Edu and Arteta need to formalise a plan, share it with the fans, then get cracking.

We’ve rid ourselves of a cancer today. This was a good day for Arsenal football club. We now look like we have a direction. All the ingredients are there. Hunger, elite talent, young players, brilliant brand name, a huge stadium, and a massive desire from all that have remained to return us not to the top 4… but to the very top of world football. Who wouldn’t support that?

This is an exciting time to be an Arsenal fan. We’ve finally moved forward. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that we can share the next 5 years together thinking about all the good that is happening. It’s been a long time since I felt this positive. I hope you feel the same way. This is going to be a fun, fun ride.

See you in the comments. x

644 Responses to “Arsenal ditch disgraceful leadership of Raul Sanllehi, now what? (long read)”

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  1. TR7

    I wonder if Saka can play the role Ceballos played for us post project restart. He has it in him to receive the ball and keep it moving. The only question mark for me is whether he has tactical understanding the role demands.

  2. WengerEagle


    Doing some Grimandtubing on him, he looks your modern CB anyway in that he’s aggressive and likes to play the ball out from the back.

    People are saying he lacks pace but he looks fast enough to me, although he does like to go to ground a lot which is something he’ll have to get out of the habit of.

    Definitely looks a prospect and Lille averaged less than a goal conceded a game in the league which is pretty decent.

  3. Batistuta


    Weird isn’t it? I’d have thought the priority this summer would be that abomination of a midfield. We’re down to Xhaka, Wilock, Torreira at this point. God help us

  4. WengerEagle

    Not sure why people have a problem with the Willian signing, he’s a good player so it’s not like we’re signing up dross on a costly contract.

    Cost nothing so even if his wages are very high, could still work out to be a good signing if he adds to us on the pitch unlike the likes of Ozil, Kolasinac, etc.

    Guy’s a winner, still rapid quick and brings creativity, one vs one ability which we absolutely lack outside of Pepe who blows hot and cold and Saka and takes a great set piece.

  5. WengerEagle


    Yeah and with the introduction of VAR it’s even riskier going to ground now, any brush of contact in the box will be given as a pen.

    The best defenders/defensive midfielders only go to ground or hard tackle as an absolute last resort. Maldini averaged less than a tackle a game his entire career and Van Dijk for Liverpool now averages well under a tackle a game.

  6. Dissenter

    ‘’ Anyone knows if Gabriel is any good ?’

    The aristocratic pundits of Le-grove love him, what else do you need to know?

  7. Dissenter

    The media/tabloids are full of shit so let’s be careful with quoting the 100k weekly wages and the 220k weekly wages reports.

  8. WengerEagle


    Yeah and let’s be real, Lucas is gone this summer. He’s pretty much implied as much and Arteta looks to have no real need for him in his system.

    I would be delighted if we could recoup the fee we paid tbh. He’s a good little player but he’s just not cut out for this league, way too diminutive and slight for the type of player that he is.

    He’s like an anorexic Gary Medel. Doesn’t progress play, doesn’t bring creativity or invention and his best work is off the ball which is a problem for a 5 foot 6 wiry guy in the PL.

  9. Batistuta


    Liked him but it’s just not worked out.

    We’re barely even linked to any midfielders and we need minimum 2 for next season especially if Dani isn’t coming back which is why I’m irritated at all the backroom talk distraction.

  10. Dream10

    Lot of hype around Gabriel. Interested to see if he is quick enough to play in wide areas of a back three.

    Apparently the Spuds are interested in Sabitzer of Leipzig. Rumors earlier in the week that they are willing to sell Winks

  11. Sid

    “Sevilla are a top 4 side
    Below them the league is pony now that cazorla and Odengaard have left Villarreal and Real Sos”

    Thought Europa EPL teams would easily make top 4 in la liga according to your logic

  12. CG


    “”””Anyone knows if Gabriel is any good ?’””””

    No idea.( age and profile acceptable at least)
    But if he does come- it will be center back No.9 on the payroll.

    Is this the squad balancing , muppet Edu is on about??

    (Why buy Mary , why extend Luiz for another 12 months deal and then spend £30 million on another one?)

    No one at the club ,seems to know what they are doing, and where the club should be heading.

    X9 center backs!
    How many do Liverpool have?

  13. Words on a Blog


    One of the problems of the post-Wenger area was that it has been hard to pin down who exactly was “responsible” for a particular signing, and how much we paid for the signing.

    We’ve all had fun arguing whether player X or a player Y was bought in by Raul or Edu or Emery Or Arteta or Cagigao or even Kia, but nobody really knew who was responsible, how much he was wanted by the manager, and what our initial valuation of the player was relative to what we ultimately paid.

    Now it’s crystal clear: together Arteta and Edu define who we want, and Vinai Sets the budget.

    Not so good for the comments section of Le Grove, but (hopefully) better for Arsenal.

  14. CG


    “””You need some positivity in your life man.””””

    (Trust me , I am very positive)

    The rogues and rascals are slowly being eradicated.

    Emery gone Tick
    Raul gone Tick

    (The Clown and The Crook out the Arsenal door…..)
    Edu wont last too long now he is 100% exposed and Tim Lewis is Arsenal’ best signing for 10 years.

    CG is positive alright.

  15. Nelson

    Englandsbest “For every move there is an effective counter-move. ”

    I would like to hear your opinion how to defeat a team playing low block. The way MC did it yesterday didn’t seem to work. Our team also have difficulties defeating those teams.

  16. Champagne Charlie

    “Also. Why are you doubling down on something you know full well is true? Raul was sacked for his negligent transfer dealings.
    Ya stubborn arse hole“

    I’m doubling down on nothing, I’m just not going to attribute what I fancy to Raul and call it a day. I like my facts and my speculation kept separate if that’s ok to you.

    Can you answer me why the club would sanction Willians transfer AND Raul’s exit inside 48 hours if there was anything untoward with the deal? Honestly speaking.

  17. Sid

    “Spain’s former King Juan Carlos has left the country for an unknown destination, weeks after he was linked to an inquiry into alleged corruption.”

    Raul must have taken cue from this guy

  18. Captain Tierney


    In the report that says Willian’s total package might divide back to 220k a week includes all the bonuses and clauses in his contract and assumes he is going to trigger all of them.
    Eg- Scoring a Goal -10-15k , assist – 10k , Season total goals >15 – 1 mil , winning PL – 3mil , etc , etc.

    If we started viewing wages like that then Ozil would come around 450k , Xhaka , Mustafi and Sok at 200k etc , etc.

    And if he achieves all that we’ll all be happy because that would mean the club is doing extremely good.

  19. Ishola70

    Let’s remember who brought Raul into the club in the first place.

    That bleedin’ Gazidis.

    Arseblog has come to the conclusion that Arsenal overpaid for Pepe. haha

  20. Ishola70

    Just how much did Arsenal overspend on Pepe though?

    To me Pepe looks around a 25m purchase. Ability and potential but very rough in many aspects.

    So that’s not doubly overpaying for him. That’s a triple overpay for him.

    If Raul was the man behind that deal then that deal alone gets the noose around his neck.

  21. CG


    “””Let’s remember who brought Raul into the club in the first place
    That bleedin’ Gazidis.”””

    Yep. Gazidas old chum…

    And NOW let’s remember who brought Edu in to the club……. Raul

    All need to go…..all of them except Arteta
    Start afresh,

    Get Lewis to appoint a team.of professionals from all spheres and oust the Dopes, the Lackeys, the Loosers, the Hangers On and start acting like a multi million pound operation.

    Vinny and Edu could ‘nt run a successful car wash operation- let alone a club as prestigious as The Arsenal.

  22. MLC

    Did anyone watch the Anelka documentary? I liked a lot, seems like a very strong character, whom independent of the others had protagonist in took his own decisions.

  23. Champagne Charlie

    “They investigated the Pepe deal and Raul is gone 48 hours later. You saying that’s a coinkydink? Come now Charlie. You’re letting yourself down here.“

    Willian and Pepe are different mate, stay on track here.

    “Charlie asks to stick to facts and then asks me to speculate. All over the place today“

    I never said stick to facts, I said I like my facts and my speculations kept separate ie not dragging speculation in from a Daily Mail article and running with that as fact. It’s not a hard one mate.

    On Raul: you don’t know what or why he’s gone, you’ve got an idea and that’s as far as it stretches. More of the truth will be revealed in time, but don’t kid me on that you’re clued up on the terms of his dismissal when you only wised up to his departure 2 hours ago you hobnob 😂 back in your cookie jar.

  24. Chris


    I watched it and liked it a lot. I had forgotten the storm of the French 2010 World Cup, watching the documentary there was a lot revealed that I hadn’t realised at the time.

    It was nicely done and he seems like a good, family orientated guy, who has unfortunately made some bad decisions, but certainly in the case of the 2010 WC he was a little bit stitched up.

  25. Dissenter

    Kudos to Pedro though.
    Arseblog corroborated every concern that Pedro has shared Over the past year. There weren’t just figments of Pedro’s imagination. They are shared by other Arsenal bloggers who have sources in the club that most gooners.

  26. Freddie Ljungberg

    “Although there have been reports that it was the decision to overpay for Nicolas Pepe that brought about Sanllehi’s exit, The Telegraph claim he walked away of his own accord.

    “Whether he walked before he was pushed is a different matter, but the report says Sanllehi felt control of transfers had been taken out of his hands and put in those of Arteta and technical director Edu.

    The former Barca chief is also said to have become ‘disillusioned’ by the club’s decision to make 55 members of staff redundant and had warned the board against doing so. Sanllehi felt the departures of a number of important members of the recruitment and scouting teams – including Francis Cagigao, who unearthed Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin – would significantly compromise the club’s ability to make signings this summer”

    These guys need to get with the program, what is this reasonable nonsense that they peddle trying to make Raul look like he’s not the AntiChrist? Smh

  27. Ishola70

    lol the Metro

    Raul doesn’t walk away from such a well paid plum job because he is “disillusioned”

    He was sacked.

  28. Freddie Ljungberg

    We were choosing between Pepe and Zaha last summer. Pepe is younger, better, more end product and the potential to be world class. He was also cheaper and available on a back loaded deal unlike Zaha.

    Labelling him a 25m player is ridiculous. He was one of the best wingers in Europe the season before we bought him and with time he can reach those height for us too.

  29. Ishola70

    30m tops for Pepe Tom.

    There are too many aspects of his game that are very rough and one of the most worrying aspects has been some flaws seen in his character on the pitch. At other times though he has shown some good character. So there is hope he can become an overall good character on the pitch going forward.

    30m tops.

  30. Captain Tierney


    Unfortunately I dont have access to all the tabloids.
    And if we spend 35mil on him It will mean he will have scored and assisted in every game and Arsenal will have won multiple titles.
    And Willian will go into the club history as a hero of sorts.


    Pepe 25 mil. So thats what a 22 goal 11 assist 23/24 year old is worth to you.

  31. Ishola70

    Arsenal and Raul fucked up over the Pepe deal full stop.

    Why anyone feels the need to defend a door salesman dwarf who is no longer an Arsenal employee beats me.

  32. Champagne Charlie

    “I think it’s safe to assume he’s gone because of his transfer dealings
    They investigated the Pepe deal and sacked him 48 hours later“

    I don’t necessarily disagree, but he could be sacked over that deal alone – it was a mammoth one as noted by all at the time. You go off on a tangent when you start throwing everything you don’t like at Raul and try and cast the shadow across whatever’s convenient.

    “Yes. And I’m clearly saying that I think the reason he’s been sacked is his transfer dealings. How’s that not on track?“

    Because Willian isn’t a Raul buy, Edu took over purchasing the moment he arrived unless you want to state his role differently to his official announcement?

  33. Champagne Charlie

    “The fact remains they started investigating his deals 2-3 days ago and now he’s gone. What does that tell you about his dismissal?“

    Not a fact. Big man Tim has been here over a month nerding his way through balance sheets fag packets. Do me a favour that he started an audit Wednesday night and had Raul pegging it before Friday drinks. Get the fuck out you spanner 😂 would take 3x as long to audit a corner shop.