Ex-Barcelona Director Raul Sanllehi Joins Arsenal as Head of Football Relations

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2017

A picture shows the outside of The Emirates Stadium in north London on September 29, 2015 ahead of kick off of the UEFA Champions League Group F football match between Arsenal and Olympiakos. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK        (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Former Barcelona director of football Raul Sanllehi has joined Arsenal, where he will serve as the head of football relations.

The Gunners confirmed the appointment via their official website on Tuesday. Sanllehi will arrive in February after 14 years at the Camp Nou.

At the Emirates Stadium he will "lead future player negotiations" as well as "represent and support the club with international and domestic governing bodies."

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: "Raul's appointment is another important step in developing the infrastructure we need at the club to take everything we do to the next level. Raul has extensive contacts across the football world and has been directly involved in some of the biggest transfers in Europe in recent years."

Per ESPN FC's Sam Marsden, Sanllehi—who maintained his position at the Camp Nou despite two presidential shifts at the club during his time there—helped bring Neymar and Luis Suarez to Barcelona, as well as Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo.

ESPN's Alex Shaw was impressed with the appointment, which comes after the club brought in Borussia Dortmund chief scout Sven Mislintat:

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The Gunners have made a number of backroom changes in recent months, including the recruitment of contract negotiator Huss Fahmy, who was Team Sky's legal expert.

James Olley of the Evening Standard picked up on the title Sanllehi has been given at the Emirates:

Indeed, manager Arsene Wenger has been vocally against the appointment of a director of football at the club and was unhappy at the suggestion of one last season, per Football.London's Charles Watts:

Sanllehi may not have the title of director of football, but he may be de facto operating in that role given the responsibilities he'll be adopting at the club.

The Gunners' decision to keep Wenger on after his contract was set to expire in the summer was not a popular one with many supporters, particularly after Gazidis said their struggles in the Premier League last season would be a "catalyst for change," per ESPN FC's Mattias Karen.

Wenger may still be there, but Gazidis appears to be following through on that promise, and the club appear well-equipped to handle the transition to a new manager when the Frenchman does move on.

However, the change that will be most important to Gunners fans is on the pitch, and they'll be hoping Sanllehi can help affect that as part of their revamped recruiting team.