Raul Sanllehi, the Man Behind Arsenal’s Record-Breaking Transfer Window

Richard Benites \ Aug 14th, 2019 

As of Thursday, August 8th, at 17:00 BST, the Premier League’s summer transfer window had officially come to an end. Many fans are buzzing from their clubs’ ambitious acquisitions, while others were left looking on in envy because their team was dealt a transfer ban or seemingly lacked funding.

Originally, Arsenal supporters were at risk of falling into the latter group after early-summer rumors suggested that The Gunners were limited to a £45 million budget – considerably less than England’s other elite clubs. Protests followed soon after as fans called for, Arsenal owner, Stan Kroenke to ‘spend the money’ and bring in quality players that would elevate the squad back to its rightful place as one of Europe’s best.

However, following the departure of CEO Ivan Gazidis, merely opening the coffers wouldn’t entirely remedy Kroenke’s situation. No, North London was still in dire need of a Head of Football who’d have an eye for talent and a flair for dealmaking.

Raul Sanllehi

Previously the Director of Football at Barcelona, the Spanish-born maestro first joined Arsenal back in February 2018. After being recently promoted to his new administrative position, Raul Sanllehi has been hard at work at trying to bring the club back to its former glory. And so far, he’s done a hell of a job.

In his short time at the helm, Sanllehi has offloaded expensive contracts, resigned key first-team players and youth academy products, as well as signing a flurry of top-notch transfers. Simply put, the man has spearheaded this project of getting The Gunners back on track and supporters have definitely taken notice. So much so that anti-Kroenke sentiment has all but quelled and Sanllehi fan accounts are popping up all over Twitter – a peculiar occurrence, especially for administrative figures.

Nevertheless, it’s worth analyzing Sanllehi’s magnum opus of a summer transfer window and how, in his words, “when Arsenal knocks on the door, it’s a different knock than other clubs”. Here’s a look into Arsenal’s record-breaking transfer window.

Gabriel Martinelli, Forward

Coming from Brazilian football club Ituano, Gabriel Martinelli is a signing for the future as the young striker has shown flashes of talent. In his debut match, a pre-season fixture against the Colorado Rapids, Martinelli chested in a brilliant 60th-minute goal to bring the score to 3-0 in favor of The Gunners.

Martinelli is a proactive attacker and very pacey on the counter, he’ll look to slot in as the fourth choice striker behind Eddie Nketiah who’s just joined Leeds United on a season-long loan deal.

Contract Details: Deal is subject to the completion of regulatory processes.

William Saliba, Defender

Aged only 18 from Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne, William Saliba is touted across Europe as one of the best up and coming center back prospects.

At 6’4″, Saliba’s best asset is his composure on the ball – making him seem more like a veteran of the game. In addition, this allows him to not shirk away from challenging the ball and once in possession he can push forward or send a great pass with his playmaking ability.

Saliba saw plenty of playing time at his former club, which is probably why Arsenal decided to loan him back for the following season. Nevertheless, it’s no question that The Gunners help address their situation at the backline with a signing investment like this.

Contract Details: 5-year, £32 million (loaned back for 2019/20 season).

Dani Ceballos, Midfielder

After a not so successful loan spell with a Barcelona midfielder, Arsenal turned their focus to Real Madrid man Dani Ceballos. The Spanish footballer has been in excellent form as of late and, although the deal is only temporary, he’ll see plenty of first-team playtime.

Ceballos is a very well rounded midfielder but his talent with shooting from a distance will have you thinking he’s a striker. He also dominates possession in the middle of the pitch and seemingly has the ball glued to his feet at all times, Arsenal has found an immediate answer that’ll complement their holding midfielder, Lucas Torreira, immensely.

Contract Details: Season-long loan, £15 million.

Nicolas Pepe, Forward

The record-breaking aspect of this transfer window is found here as Arsenal’s signing of Lille OSC winger, Nicolas Pepe, made waves across the footballing world.

At such a massive price tag, The Gunners have secured an absolute star in the Ivorian forward. Pepe is a world-class dribbler and his expected contribution to the team, via goal-scoring or assists, will have fans chanting his name soon enough. Most of Europe’s major clubs have already had their attacking trios set, but adding Pepe into the mix of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette might’ve elevated the club’s offense to one of the best in the world.

Contract Details: 5-year, £73 million.

Kieran Tierney, Defender

Arsenal just recently made Kieran Tierney the most expensive Scottish player of all time following his signing from Celtic. At 21 years of age, Tierney was already donning the captain’s armband for his former club – and if you were to see him in action you would understand why.

Although dealing with an injury that’ll have him sidelined for some weeks, Tierney figures to eventually start for Arsenal at the left fullback position once fully healthy. As seen from their right fullback, Hector Bellerin, The Gunners’ rely heavily on defenders that can sprint down the sideline and occasionally help on the attack – Tierney is exactly what Arsenal needs and more.

Contract Details: 5-year, £25 million

David Luiz, Defender

For Arsenal fans that are in the know, David Luiz is only a slight upgrade from Shkodran Mustafi. However, Luiz’s presence as a leader in the locker room will surely boost the defense as a whole.

Luiz is still a great header of the ball and is well known for his lobbed passing from the backline. Now entering his fourteenth season as a professional, the Brazilian center-back will bring his experience from club and country to the Arsenal ranks.

Contract Details: 2-year, £8 million

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