Arsenal announce new ‘head of football’ after confirming Gazidis will join AC Milan

By on September 18, 2018

Arsenal have released a statement on Arsenal.com confirming that Raul Sanllehi has been appointed ‘head of football’ after Ivan Gazidis decided to join AC Milan.

There has been growing speculation in recent weeks linking Gazidis with the Italian giants and the club have finally confirmed today that the American will leave his role as chief executive at Arsenal in order to move to the San Siro.

Gazidis will officially leave on October 31st before taking over as the new chief exec at Milan on December 1st and he’s said in his parting statement that it’s been a privilege to be part of the Arsenal family for the past ten years.

Gazidis oversaw a difficult period in the clubs history but it’s fair to say his tenure here was nothing more than mediocre as we’ve stagnated on the pitch and been left behind commercially by the likes of Man Utd and Man City.

I’m not sad to see the back of him and the board have moved quickly to fill the void left behind as we’ve made Sanllehi ‘head of football’ little over six months after he joined Arsenal from Barcelona as head of football relations.

As part of the restructure, current chief commercial officer Vinai Venkatesham – who joined the club in 2010 – will become Arsenal’s new Managing Director.

Interestingly, it was Josh Kroenke – not Stan – who gave a statement to Arsenal.com, saying:

“It has been a pleasure working with Ivan. We will miss the wisdom, insight, and energy he brought to our club on a daily basis over the past decade. We are confident we have outstanding people in Raul and Vinai, and we look forward to working with them and coach Unai Emery to continue to move the club forward on  and off the pitch.”

Sanllehi also said:

“Although I joined Arsenal just months ago, I’ve felt embraced by this great club and part of its family from the first day. I will do everything possible to maintain our strong values which will be as fundamental to our future as they have been in our past. Vinai and I will need everyone’s help, to do everything right and secure the success everyone connected to Arsenal wants. I sincerely thank Arsenal’s board for their trust in us and thank Ivan for bringing me to this great club, and for consistently supporting me every day, in every way. It’s with overwhelming pride and utmost excitement that I face this new opportunity.”

Gazidis said of his departure:

“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge. This includes world-class facilities and outstanding leaders in every sector who carry the values of the club, including, of course, Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham in whom I have enormous faith.

“We have been building on the club’s progressive social values, leading the way on the women’s game, diversity and inclusion, and establishing the Arsenal Foundation. This will remain central to the club’s philosophy.

“Although it is very hard to do – the hardest decision of my life – I believe that, after 10 years, it is the right time for me to step aside to allow new leadership, energy and ideas to take the club forward into this exciting new era. I believe in the positive force of change, both for me and for the club. I am excited to see what the future holds for this great club and I am energised by a new personal challenge with AC Milan.

“My sincere thanks go to Stan and Josh Kroenke for their support and guidance on everything we have done. To Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Phil Harris, Ken Friar and my wonderful management team and staff, on and off the field, to Arsène Wenger, Unai Emery and to the fans of this giant and incredible club, thank you for your immense support and friendship over so many years and for the wonderful privilege of being part of the journey.

“We lived through many emotions together, the highs and the lows of football, and I am proud to be able to say that I gave this club and its fantastic people everything that I had in me. I am excited and energised for the future for myself and for Arsenal Football Club and I will always hold it in my heart.”

I think it’s clear that Josh Kroenke is being positioned to have a more prominent role at Arsenal moving forward so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an announcement on his position over the coming months.