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Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi LEAVES the club

Arsenal have announced their head of football Raul Sanllehi will leave the club with immediate effect.

It was also confirmed that managing director Vinai Venkatesham will replace him as Arsenal press forward with the radical overhaul of their recruitment department.

Sanllehi joined the North London outfit in February 2018, having previously worked at Barcelona.

A statement published on behalf of owners Stan and Josh Kroenke reads: ‘Raul has made a big contribution during his time with us and will always be part of the Arsenal family. We thank him for all his hard work and expertise and wish him every future success.

‘We have no doubt that Vinai is the right person to take the club forward. 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.’

The surprise move comes after it was revealed Arsenal will trigger a wide-sweeping probe into their under-fire recruitment over recent years. 

It has been reported that the club will look into the £72million signing of struggling winger Nicolas Pepe from Lille last summer.

Technical director Edu will head up the investigation with Arsenal keen to determine whether they overspent on the Ivory Coast international. 

The Emirates hierarchy are hopeful of improving their transfer operations and avoiding repeating past mistakes. 

Sanllehi has become part of the changes in the department, and follows scouts Francis Cagigao, Brian McDermott and Peter Clark through the exit door. 

The trio had been let go by the club due to financial struggles stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 55 non-playing staff were made redundant earlier this month by the club, a move with was met with widespread ire.

Cagigao held a stellar reputation across his 24 years working for Arsenal, and was the man  responsible for unearthing Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerín and Gabriel Martinelli.

But the departure of Sanllehi is an amicable one. The 53-year-old wrote: ‘I’m proud and pleased with the contribution I’ve made at Arsenal over the past three years, and look forward to enjoying the club’s future success. Arsenal is a true footballing institution.

‘I am proud to have been part of its history and I thank Stan and Josh Kroenke for this opportunity. Working with Vinai, we have built a top team for the future. Mikel has made an extremely positive impact since his arrival and has formed a strong team with our technical director, Edu. 

‘The academy is in very safe hands with Per, and Huss Fahmy is a talented and highly-capable leader of our football operations. Personally, I now look forward to taking some time off and spending time with family and friends before setting to work on a new challenge and cheering Arsenal on to great things.’

Sanllehi and his colleagues were slammed for their poor track record by former Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi. 

The 49-year-old had been one of Arsene Wenger’s closest confidants, and operated as part of the group that focused on incomings between 2009 and 2019. 

‘We’re not able to read the project that’s in the hands of the directors and Sanllehi right now,’ he said.

‘There have been some debatable signings and it’s not possible to totally see from the outside what they want to do.’ 

Arsenal appear to now be leaning towards a fresh approach during the transfer market, with an increased reliance on building strong relations with super agents. 

Willian, represented by Kia Joorabchian, was recently brought in on a free from Chelsea. The outspoken agent openly criticised Arsenal’s failures over big-money signings but denied having any undue influence over transfers.

He launched into a withering attack on former chief scout Sven Mislintat and placed the blame on him for a host of expensive ‘cock-ups’ as part of an explosive and no holds barred radio interview.

Joorabchian is known to have close relationships with several key members of Arsenal’s hierarchy.

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