Arsenal have confirmed the departure of head of football Raul Sanllehi and that managing director Vinai Venkatesham will absorb the role.
The former Barcelona director was appointed by the Gunners in November 2017 as head of football relations before being promoted following the departure of Ivan Gazidis.
‘Vinai Venkatesham, our current managing director, will lead us going forward,’ the club said in a statement announcing Sanllehi’s exit.
The decision comes amid a move to streamline Arsenal’s behind-the-scenes structure, partly influenced by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the club announce plans to make 55 non-playing staff redundant and led to the departure of figures in the scouting department.
Among those let go was head of international recruitment Francis Cagigao, who discovered the likes of Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas during Arsene Wenger’s spell in charge of the team.
The Gunners have also reportedly launched an internal investigation into the signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille in 2019, with it alleged that the club hierarchy believe they overpaid by spending £72 million ($91m) on the winger.
Owners Stan Kroenke and son Josh said: ‘Raul has made a big contribution during his time with us and will always be part of the Arsenal family. We thank him for all his hard work and expertise and wish him every future success.
‘We have no doubt that Vinai is the right person to take the club forward. He has shown outstanding leadership during the current crisis and is held in high regard internally and externally.
‘We know everyone will rally round him so we can move forward successfully.’
Venkatesham joined Arsenal in 2010 and served as chief commercial officer prior to the restructuring behind the scenes that came after Gazidis left in 2018, when he became managing director.
‘I will miss working closely with my colleague and friend Raul, but I am looking forward to this new challenge,’ he said.
‘There is much work to do to return Arsenal to the top of the game where we belong, which is what our fans rightly demand.
‘While this will not happen overnight, I believe we have many of the critical ingredients to do so. There are many positives to build on across the club.
‘While football faces uncertainties ahead as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am confident Arsenal will emerge strongly and look forward with confidence.’
Sanllehi, who described Arsenal as a ‘true footballing institution’, said: ‘I am proud to have been part of its history and I thank Stan and Josh Kroenke for this opportunity.
‘Working with Vinai, we have built a top team for the future. Mikel [Arteta] has made an extremely positive impact since his arrival [as head coach] and has formed a strong team with our technical director, Edu.
‘The academy is in very safe hands with Per [Mertesacker], and Huss Fahmy is a talented and highly-capable leader of our football operations.
‘Personally, I now look forward to taking some time off and spending time with family and friends before setting to work on a new challenge and cheering Arsenal on to great things.’
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