Following Saturday’s confirmation that Raul Sanllehi was to leave his position as Arsenal’s head of football with immediate effect, the reins were handed to Vinai Venkatesham to rise as the club’s main figurehead.
Currently, the club’s managing director, the 39-year-old’s role hasn’t changed with the changes of the last few days.
Similar to the Gunners’ former-chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, he will be responsible for both on and off-field matters at Arsenal. His decade of experience with the club from a commercial standout will help in this regard as he also looks to guide the club through the challenges brought by the pandemic.
Here, football.london assess five areas Venkatesham as the sole leader must deliver in to help form a successive post-pandemic transition for the club.
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Aiding the restructure
Since taking on the role of managing director in 2018, much has changed for both Venkatesham and Arsenal.
In that time, a head of recruitment in Sven Mislintat has left, there was a restructure of the academy with Per Mertesacker taking charge, Edu Gaspar returned as technical director, on-pitch issues led to the dismissal of Unai Emery, Mikel Arteta has put his stamp on the side since arriving in December 2019, while Sanllehi’s departure is the latest seismic shift to occur in north London.
Coming just weeks after the proposal of 55 redundancies, this added to unwanted uncertainty surrounding the way in which the club is run, but for Venkatesham, acting as an aid rather than a crusader will be crucial.
Structural changes have been put in place to help Arsenal through the financial impact of the pandemic, but in regards to how the first team is run, allowing things run as smoothly as possible, will be the goal. Him becoming the voice that lays down the law should help with that but, it doesn’t mean he must try too hard to become over-involved with all aspects of the club.
One of these aspects is recruitment. This shouldn’t be an issue as Arteta and Edu are to head this up with specific plans already in place, as revealed by football.london on August 15.
As displayed in the pursuit of Arteta to return as head coach, the 39-year-old can have some part to play in helping moves get over the line but when it comes to the seeing out this plan from start to finish, bar minor details, that must be left to the duo to create a more seamless approach to transfers.
Thankfully for Arsenal, this is an aspect Venkatesham feels is set nicely.
“We have, in Edu and Mikel, two individuals who are responsible for our technical plan,” he said on Sunday [August 16].
“Of course, [that is] overseen by me and the board, but those two are the experts and they have a very, very clear plan about how they want to rebalance our squad in the short term, in the medium term…