RAUL SANLLEHI

HEAD OF FOOT­BALL RE­LA­TIONS

FourFourTwo - - UNAI EMERY -

When Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat ar­rived at Arse­nal as heads of foot­ball re­la­tions and re­cruit­ment re­spec­tively last year, the writ­ing was on the wall for Gun­ners au­to­crat Arsene Wenger.

Once Sven has iden­ti­fied some­one he wants to bring to Lon­don, it’s Sanllehi’s job to en­sure the deal goes through and fi­nalise de­tails with the sell­ing club and player’s agent. He’s a trans­fer fixer.

The 49-year-old Cata­lan had done the same role at Barcelona since May 2008 as di­rec­tor of foot­ball, 18 months af­ter first mov­ing to Camp Nou, and was the main me­di­a­tor in seal­ing mega-money moves for both Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho from Liv­er­pool.

Ex-barça pres­i­dent Joan La­porta knew what he was get­ting when he pro­moted Sanllehi to trans­fer deal­ings. He headed up Nike’s op­er­a­tions in South Amer­ica for five years, along­side San­dro Rosell who later fol­lowed him to Cat­alo­nia, and formed a wealth of con­tacts that came in handy for the sign­ing with which he’s most as­so­ci­ated.

Ney­mar’s 2013 switch to Barça would have been im­pos­si­ble with­out Sanllehi’s Nike con­nec­tions. The Brazil­ian’s trans­fer from San­tos has since been the sub­ject of tax fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tions and re­sulted in Rosell’s de­par­ture as Barça pres­i­dent, but it was Sanllehi who’d brought all of the rel­e­vant par­ties to­gether.

Nike’s con­tin­ued re­la­tion­ship with the club also owes a lot to Sanllehi, though there was a feel­ing his days in Cat­alo­nia were num­bered af­ter the Ney­mar af­fair, es­pe­cially af­ter he failed to con­vince the Samba star to snub PSG.

A ruth­less ne­go­tia­tor who tends to get what he wants, Raul has al­ready made his pres­ence felt at Arse­nal, per­suad­ing Me­sut Ozil to ex­tend his stay and sign­ing Swiss right-back Stephan Licht­steiner.

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