The exit of Arsene Wenger and the subsequent hiring of Unai Emery as his successor was widely recognised the symbolic changing of the guard desperately needed at Arsenal. In truth, though, the overhaul had started at the Emirates Stadium long before then.
Indeed, much has changed around Arsenal over the past 18 months or so. The club has implemented a new structure, with Sven Mislintat the most high profile appointment made in preparation for Wenger’s departure. The former Borussia Dortmund chief now has more power than anyone else at the Gunners, but influence is spread across a whole team of figures.
Now, it emerges that Giles Grimandi is set to leave Arsenal. The former defender was a key figure in the Wenger camp, overseeing the club’s scouting operation in France, where the Gunners sourced many of their best players over the years. Grimandi played a significant role in the creation of the club Arsenal became under Wenger.
This is why his exit is so symbolic. Arsenal, in every way, are moving on from the Wenger era. They are implementing a new, more comprehensive infrastructure that will see them become the modern football club. A scouting overhaul will help them do that. They have already made progress when it comes to scouting Germany, where a number of new signings have been sourced over the past 18 months or so.
And yet while Arsenal are doing their best to move on from the Wenger era, they are rediscovering the identity that made them so successful under their former manager. Emery has brought back the brand of exhilarating, dynamic football that hasn’t been seen seen at the Emirates for years.
When it comes to scouting as well, Arsenal are seeking a return to the ways of old. In the mid 2000s, there was no club in the Premier League better at scouting talent. The Gunners managed to keep up with their rivals through shrewd moves in the transfer market. They rarely spent big, with the £12 million signing of Jose Antonio Reyes standing as the club’s transfer record for years.
Arsenal have already flexed their scouting muscle by finding Matteo Guendouzi, signed for around £7 million from Lorient. To keep up with the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United, they will need more like the French midfielder. The Gunners, it seems, will become increasingly dependent on their scouting system.
Great progress has been made at Arsenal over the last 18 months or so. Most will focus on the way Emery’s team are playing this season, exciting fans once again, and most importantly, winning. But the real marker of progress can be found in the off-the-field detail. Grimandi’s exit is just the next part of the process.
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