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Arsenal didn’t change, at least in its front office, for over two decades. Now, all of a sudden, everything’s changing. Which is fine – that’s how life works, after all, things change and evolve and move forward all the time. But if the rumors of Arsenal’s next move turn out to be true, it would be a very strange move indeed.
One of the prime movers behind a lot of Arsenal’s changes in the last few years has been CEO Ivan Gazidis. He recognized a few years back that Arsenal were way too reliant on Arsene Wenger; Wenger was in charge of literally everything at the club at that point, and Gazidis realized that, going forward, that was going to be unsustainable. Wenger, after all, wasn’t going to be around forever, and Arsenal needed to have a structure in place to survive his departure, whenever that turned out to be.
So, for a couple seasons, behind the scenes, there was reportedly a power struggle, while Gazidis attempted to reform the front office and Wenger, he of the two decades of success, kinda shrugged and went “things seem fine to me”. Last season, Gazidis appointed Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi to oversee Arsenal’s transfer business, but it was unclear whether they were in charge or Wenger was; there were other changes and devolutions too, but those were the most visible signs that Gazidis was attempting to stamp his vision onto the club’s future.
We all, of course, know how that turned out; Wenger announced his departure in April and oversaw his last match in May, and after a conversation with Mikel Arteta that got a lot further than many thought it would, Gazidis announced Unai Emery as Arsenal’s new coach in early June, and the transition from a one-man show to a group-run team was seemingly complete, with Gazidis coming out the other side the “winner”, if there was indeed a power struggle.
Which, as I said, makes the rumors swirling around the last couple days all that much stranger: