Report: Arsenal Informed of Ivan Gazidis Approach by Milan

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03:  Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis looks on prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC at White Hart Lane on March 3, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Ivan Gazidis' potential departure from Arsenal to AC Milan looks like a "very real possibility," according to Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph.

Arsenal's chief executive Gazidis continues to be linked with the Rossoneri, and his departure is something the Gunners are already preparing for, after the 53-year-old made the club's board aware of an offer.

Wilson noted Gazidis won't be moving on within a month, since any "potential notice period at Arsenal would rule out that sort of timescale and there is confidence that he would not push to leave suddenly and risk a damaging void."

Reports from Italy had suggested he would be in place in Milan within that timeframe:

The Gunners are said to be confident they could quickly replace Gazidis should he move on, although there is hope at board level he will resist any offer to leave. Even so, the lure of Milan can't be overlooked after American hedge fund Elliot Management assumed control of the club from Li Yonghong recently.

Gazidis has a history with Elliot Management boss Paul Singer, according to Wilson.

For many, the timing of Gazidis' departure would be strange after he was credited with overhauling the management structure at Arsenal. He oversaw and prepared for the end of Arsene Wenger's near 22-year tenure by adding new decision-makers at the club.

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While Wenger famously controlled most, if not all, aspects of Arsenal's sporting operation, Gazidis appointed Sven Mislintat from Borussia Dortmund to be head of recruitment. His attempts to sign players are aided by Raul Sanllehi, the Gunners' head of football relations, who was brought to north London from Barcelona by Gazidis.

Mislintat is one of may figures hired by Gazidis to take Arsenal into a new era.
Mislintat is one of may figures hired by Gazidis to take Arsenal into a new era.TF-Images/Getty Images

He also led the process to appoint Wenger's successor, former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery.

Walking away from a new era he has helped manufacture from the ground up would be curious:

Others think moving to Italy would represent a step down for the man who is now Arsenal's senior powerbroker in the post-Wenger landscape:

Gazidis leaving would no doubt catch Arsenal by surprise, with chairman Sir Chips Keswick recently feeling confident enough to call the CEO "fully committed" in a statement on the club's official website.

Emery also expressed a belief Gazidis is in it for the long haul as the two work to reshape an Arsenal squad which struggled to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season:

For all the talk of Gazidis being wrong to walk away from Arsenal, the issue may be deeper than simply assuming he wouldn't give up control he seemingly wrestled from Wenger's grasp.

By contrast, Wilson noted how "there is a sense inside Arsenal that Gazidis may now feel that the time is right for a different challenge."

While many are content to credit Gazidis with sparking an apparent long-overdue revolution, not everybody rates his work.

Among his detractors, former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson told talkSport's Jim White (h/t TalkSport.com's Joe Moore): "When he came to Arsenal I knew a very high-profile sports agent, who told me he was ‘the worst negotiator’ he had ever dealt with. Basically, he didn’t know his stuff."

Wenger said goodbye and Gazidis could reportedly follow suit.
Wenger said goodbye and Gazidis could reportedly follow suit.Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Robson, a fierce critic of Wenger, also took Gazidis to task for not sacking the Frenchman "many, many years ago."

If Gazidis does move on, only positive results on the pitch will determine whether the moves he made to offset Wenger stepping down left the club in good health. Without improvement, his walking away will be seen as one more sign of a club hindered by a muddled strategy at the top for too long.