“I had to lay off 55 people without knowing I was the 56th” – Former Arsenal director opens up on working under Josh Kroenke and speaks about Mikel Arteta

Former Arsenal director Raul Sanllehi has expressed his discontent about the manner of his departure from the Emirates Stadium two years ago. He has also shared his thoughts about the north London outfit’s new direction under head coach Mikel Arteta.

Sanllehi, who is currently the Director General of Real Zaragoza, initially joined the Gunners as Head of Football Relations in February 2018. However, after the departure of former CEO Ivan Gazidis in September of that year, he was shifted to a new Head of Football role.

Sanllehi, a former Barcelona administrator, was fired in August 2020.

Speaking to The Athletic, he shed light on his stint at Arsenal and his relationship with owner Josh Kroenke. He said:

“I loved it at Arsenal. You cannot imagine – the people in the club, the history of the club. I really felt I was at the top of the world there. I love the owners, the Kroenkes. But the last 10 months there were horrible. I had to lay off 55 people, without knowing I was the 56th.”

???? BREAKING ????Arsenal have made 55 club employees redundant due to the COVID 19 pandemic! https://t.co/zVr5D0imFQ

He continued:

“I don’t feel betrayed by the Kroenkes. The Kroenkes had the LA Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, and all of a sudden, all those teams could not play. Without COVID-19, I am sure I would still be there, as my relationship with the Kroenkes was great.”

Reminiscing about a meeting with Arteta, he added:

“It is funny now, but I remember in December 2019, I had dinner with the four guys: Mikel Arteta, Edu, Huss Fahmy and Per Mertesacker. That team, for me, was a dream team at that time. Then in March, everything just fell apart. It was sad.”

He added:

“Within the model, there are four points: head coach, sporting director, football operations and academy. They have betrayed the model a little bit now. By going back to the manager at the top, that is a mistake, but that is their mistake. I would have not allowed that to happen. But that’s fine, it is working so far for them.”

Arsenal are currently atop the 2022-23 Premier League standings with 18 points from seven matches. The club are scheduled to host their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (October 1).

Arsenal remain interested in Houssem Aouar – Reports

According to Fichajes, Arsenal have retained their interest in Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar and are set to face competition from Juventus, Newcastle United and Real Betis for his signature.

Aouar, 24, is in the final year of his contract at the Groupama Stadium. He has registered 40 goals and 35 assists in 216 matches for Lyon.

Edited by Sankalp Srivastava

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