Former head of recruitment at Arsenal, Sven Mislintat, has been vindicated by his success at VfB Stuttgart.
When it was announced in November 2017 that Sven Mislintat – “one of Europe’s most respected player recruitment experts” – would be joining from Borussia Dortmund, there was a rare feeling of universal excitement among Arsenal fans.
Here was a mysterious man who had identified and signed countless players – including Ousmane Dembélé, Shinji Kagawa, and Ilkay Gündogan – long before they developed into influential and expensive assets. After two decades of Arsène Wenger’s wheeling and dealing, Arsenal had a new head of recruitment with a ‘Diamond Eye’ who could carry them into a new era.
At least, that was the plan.
Mislintat left the club just 15 months later. He had been promised the technical director role while former chief executive Ivan Gazidis was at the club, however, everything changed when Gazidis exited.
"“Last summer there were leadership changes at Arsenal. It had actually been agreed that I would become technical director, so then I would be around the team on a daily basis. But the new leadership had their own agenda and other candidates. On top of that, we had different approaches”.“Previously we had a strong systematic approach to transfers, a mixture of watching things live as well as quality data and video analysis – Arsenal actually owns their own data company. That meant that we acted independently, we knew about all markets and players in all positions that came into question. However, the new leadership work more strongly with what they are offered from clubs or agents through their own networks”.Source: football.london"
Unsurprisingly, a man of Mislintat’s repute soon landed on his feet. He was appointed as sporting director of VfB Stuttgart in April 2019 and, rather predictably, his acquisitions have been integral to their recent success. Having earned promotion from 2. Bundesliga last season, Die Schwaben have been the top-flight’s surprise package. Heading into the Bundesliga’s winter break, they sit seventh in the table.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the eight signings made during Mislintat’s Arsenal tenure were smart signings. While only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno have established themselves as consistent contributors, the club will be able to sell Konstantinos Mavropanos, Lucas Torreira, and Mattéo Guendouzi for good money if they wish.
Raul Sanllehi secured the services of William Saliba, Kieran Tierney, and Gabriel Martinelli, but he overpaid massively for Nicolas Pépé and gave David Luiz “£24m for one season“. Furthermore, he was deeply involved in the deals for Cédric Soares, Pablo Marí, and Willian, none of whom have much resale value.
Arsenal’s torrid start to the 2020/21 campaign is their worst in the league for 46 years. They have a bloated, talent-deficient, and expensive squad; an inexperienced manager and technical director, and a dismantled scouting network. Returning to prominence will not be easy.
Regardless, VfB Stuttgart’s success, combined with Arsenal’s continued decline, has vindicated Sven Mislintat. The club should have adhered to his sustainable model.