Here’s what Arsenal have been missing since Mislintat left the club
As if Arsenal fans hadn’t suffered enough after their 1-0 defeat to Burnley on Sunday, many jumped online to find that Borussia Dortmund had just been dismantled in a 5-1 defeat to a Stuttgart squad that been assembled by Sven Mislintat.
Most Arsenal fans may not remember the name, but Mislintat was hired by Arsenal in late 2017 as the club’s new head of scouting but eventually left in early 2019 after some serious disagreements with the London club.
Since then, Mislintat has rebuilt his and Stuttgart’s fortunes in south west Germany and can now lay claim to one of the youngest and most exciting squads in the Bundesliga. Here’s exactly the kind of expertise and eye for talent that Arsenal have now lost in the man nicknamed “diamond eye” in Germany.
What Mislintat brought to Stuttgart
When Mislintat arrived at Stuttgart in April 2019 he was immediately confronted with the prospect of losing a number of key players. Just a few months after starting his new job at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, the club sold Timo Baumgartl to PSV for £9 million, Santiago Ascacibar to Hertha Berlin for £9 million, Ozan Kabak to Schalke for £14 million and Benjamin Pavard to Bayern Munich for £32 million.
However, while other clubs may have squandered the money on big signings or imploded with so many players leaving the club, Mislintat clearly got to work and that summer saw Stuttgart sign a number of the players that have now taken them to seventh in the Bundesliga.
That summer alone the club signed 19-year-old winger Silas Wamangituka from Paris FC for £7.2 million and 21-year-old forward Sasa Kalajdzic from Admira Wacker in Austria. Along with other signings like attacking midfielder Philipp Forster (24), defensive midfielder Atakan Karazor (22) and goalkeeper Gregor Kobel (21), all these young players were quickly thrown into a Stuttgart side that ultimately won promotion back to the top flight.
And they’ve been just as useful this season. Wamangituka and Kalajdzic are Pellegrino Matarazzo’s first and third top goalscorers in all competitions so far, while Kobel did so well between the posts last season that Stuttgart made his loan deal permanent. Add to that 24-year-old central defender Waldemar Anton, who signed from Hannover 96 in the summer and you’re looking at one of the youngest, leanest and most ambitious squads in German football at the moment.
How Arsenal have struggled without him
In contrast, Arsenal’s transfer record since Mislintat left the club has been nothing short of horrendous. While the German was rebuilding Stuttgart’s squad in the summer of 2019, the London club were forking out £72 million for Nicolas Pepe from Lille, £27 million for William Salbia, £25 million for Kieran Tierney, £8 million for David Luiz and £6 million for Gabriel Martinelli.
The following transfer window wasn’t much better. Although plenty of hope remains for Gabriel and Thomas Partey, both were signed for a combined £68 million and in Partey’s case it was undoubtedly a panic buy in the dying moments of the window. Similarly, the free signings of 28-year-old Cedric Soares and 32-year-old Willian don’t exactly suggest any coherent, long-term plans at the club anymore.
Arsenal may get something out of this expensively assorted group of players if or when they replace Mikel Arteta, but for the time being it seems as though bigger issues are at play behind the scenes. The London club desperately lack a clear, long-term strategy in the transfer window and as Stuttgart are showing in this season’s Bundesliga, a good sporting director like Mislintat can often be worth his weight in gold.