Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham has revealed his desire for the club to be competing to win the Premier League and Champions League and admitted he is “impatient” to get them back where they belong.
Raul Sanllehi left his role as head of football on Saturday in a move which will see manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu lead the Gunners’ transfer strategy.
Venkatesham, the most senior football figure at director level, discussed the changes at the Emirates and unveiled his plans for the future in an interview on the official club website.
“We know we’re not where we want to be and we are impatient, because we want to get to where we want to be, as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.
“Our objectives are to be back competing for and winning the biggest trophies in the game and if you’re Arsenal Football Club and if you’re in the Premier League, there’s two trophies that really matter and that’s the Premier League trophy and the Champions League trophy.
We are announcing today that head of football Raul Sanllehi is leaving the club and Vinai Venkatesham, our current managing director, will lead us going forward.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 15, 2020
“That has to be the objectives of a football club like Arsenal. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be straightforward, there’s a whole load of competition but that has to be the objective for this football club.”
Sanllehi was thanked by Venkatesham for his service to the Gunners, who he joined from Barcelona in September 2017.
His departure is understood to be part of the club wanting to streamline their off-field structure and Arteta and Edu have already clinched Arsenal’s first signing of the summer in the shape of Willian on a free from Chelsea.
“We have, in Edu and Mikel, two individuals who are responsible for our technical plan,” Venkatesham said.
“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 and in the long term. We’re starting to work on that immediately in this transfer window.”
He added: “I think it’s going to be a challenging transfer window post-coronavirus, it’s going to be unusual and it’s going to be challenging, but we’ll continue to work hard to deliver on our objectives to strengthen the squad and Edu and Mikel have a really clear plan around how they’d like to do that.”
Arsenal finished eighth last season, 10 points off the top four, but finished the campaign with victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup Final to qualify for the Europa League.
It represented a first trophy of Arteta’s managerial career, after he replaced the sacked Unai Emery in December.
“We started last season full of expectations, we looked forward and we looked upwards and unfortunately it’s not worked out in the way that we wanted it to,” Venkatesham admitted.
“But despite all of the challenges this season has thrown at us, our squad and our players and our football staff kept fighting and they kept fighting all the way to the end.
“We saw on August 1 at Wembley, us winning our 14th – a record 14th – FA Cup, which was a sign of progress. I think we can look forward with some real optimism.
“I think, in Mikel Arteta, we have an absolutely fantastic, dynamic head coach. He forms a formidable team with Edu Gaspar, who is our technical director.
“And if we look at our academy, I think we’re in really, really strong hands with Per Mertesacker and we have some of the most exciting young talent in the league.”