HEAD OF RECRUITMENT
There’s an air of mystery around Sven Mislintat, although it’s nothing to do with his demeanour, rather the fact that nobody appears to know exactly what he does. Or more precisely: how he does what he does.
When he joined Arsenal at the end of 2017, the German was preceded by his reputation as an unearther of talent, as well as nicknames including ‘Diamond Eyes’ and ‘Pearl Diver’, having advised Borussia Dortmund to sign the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-emerick Aubameyang. Yet he doesn’t tirelessly trek the globe watching these players. The 45-year-old’s hunting ground is on a computer. He has an eye for numbers and dives for data.
Mislintat hasn’t got a bigger database than anyone else, so why did he zero in on a guy from the Japanese second tier called Shinji Kagawa while others didn’t?
The answer lies in his outstanding skill. He knows which stats are important and which aren’t. Together with a business partner, Mislintat has come up with his own software, a formula that separates the useful data from the distracting.
Yet this is no nerdy number-cruncher; Sven is so successful at targeting talent because he knows the game inside out. He’s previously worked as an assistant coach in Germany’s fourth division (and has since earned his top-level coaching badges), originally moved to Dortmund in 2006 as opposition analyst, and has more recently been courted by Bayern Munich as a potential technical director.
But as good as he is, ‘Diamond Eyes’ will not turn Arsenal’s fortunes around single-handedly – modern transfers are team efforts. He didn’t discover Kagawa on his own. He was alerted by an agent and sent scouts to Japan on six different occasions before urging BVB to swoop.