Raul Sanllehi has gone from Arsenal, his departure announced on a Saturday at high noon, so how does the summer 2019 window, after which he was hailed as a transfer whizz, look now?
When the window shut at last summer, Raul Sanllehi was mobbed by Arsenal fans because he’d got Arsenal to part with £72m for Nicolas Pepe. Now, he has gone, seemingly because of that very same deal.
One of the Daily Cannon irregulars, Christopher Weeks, called the late stages of last summer’s transfer window ‘Sanllehi’s final hour’, as did many fans and journalists. Goal even named Arsenal ‘Kings of Europe’ for their transfer business during that window.
“After a quiet opening to the transfer window, the Gunners made up for lost time with a stunning end to their summer business,” Goal wrote.
Raul Sanllehi at Arsenal – So was this his ‘finest hour’?
“A month ago, all of this would have been unbelievable,” Christopher wrote on 8 August 2019. One year and one week ago.
“Back then, Arsenal’s only signing was Gabriel Martinelli, an unknown Brazilian teenager playing in the lower divisions in South America.
“Little did we know that by deadline day, Head of Football Raul Sanllehi would have done a madness.
“Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Kieran Tierney, William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli.
“All on a supposed budget of £45m.
“Raul Sanllehi is a witch.”
Of course, we all know that fanciful maths does not an amazing window make.
David Luiz has cost much, much more than the £8m fee we paid when we first signed him a year ago. He then cost even more when we re-signed him 12 months later after he set a Premier League record for ‘penalties conceded’ in a season.
William Saliba, if our loan reports are anything to go by, will be a success, but we’ve yet to see him play for Arsenal after a season when we could have desperately used a competent centreback. Sanllehi did, at least, explain his thinking behind the Saliba loan.
Dani Ceballos turned out well in the end, but only after we got rid of Unai Emery,a man sold to Sanllehi by his mate two days after Arsenal were about to give the job to Mikel Arteta.
That leaves Nicolas Pepe, a player Arsenal were linked with in the summer of 2018 who was priced at £27m that we ended up paying £72m for a year later.
On Friday, ESPN wrote that Arsenal “had launched an internal investigation into their recruitment processes amid concerns that had been raised over several transfers including the club-record £72 million purchase of Nicolas Pepe from Lille.”
Arsenal had “agreed to pay £20m upfront with a further £52m due in instalments over the next five years” ESPN continued. “The depth of those commitments formed part of a wider drive to re-examine the decision-making process which led to such a big deal.”
The club denied any investigation was taking place, as they did the rumours on Friday night that Sanllehi had left the club.
Whatever the truth of who received what money for the deal, one thing is clear – Arsenal will be paying for Sanllehi’s ‘finest hour’ for quite some time yet.