Former Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis says the chance to work at “the biggest potential club with the biggest potential league” lured him away to AC Milan during a crucial stage of the Gunners history.
Gazidis left Arsenal to much surprise in September 2018 mere weeks after the departure of Arsene Wenger, whose final years as manager of the club were riven by a battle for control with the chief executive, who wanted to instill a more collaborative setup less reliant on a single individual.
The 56-year-old appointed a de facto director of football in Raul Sanllehi, secured the highly regarded Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment and helped to bring in Darren Burgess to lead Arsenal’s high performance department. Like Gazidis, all three have since left the club.
Gazidis’ departure may have been the most surprising of them all, coming so soon after Wenger’s departure and the appointment of Unai Emery that he spearheaded. His close relations with owners Elliott Management Corporation was one factor in convincing him to end his nine year stay at Arsenal but the lure of rebuilding AC Milan also swayed him.
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Asked why he had chosen to leave Arsenal for AC Milan, Gazidis said: “Italian football, of all the major leagues, has the biggest upside, the biggest potential for growth and development. On a personal and professional level having the opportunity to be involved in an adventure like that was very exciting.
“Within Italian football Milan is the club that has the biggest potential as well. You’ve got the biggest potential club in the biggest potential league in terms of growth. It’s a really exciting opportunity and a very exciting time to be here.
“Things are changing very, very quickly in Italy and away from the way that Italian football has become pigeonholed over the last 10 to 15 years.
“Italian football is moving in a very…