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Ivan Gazidis to leave Arsenal: Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham profiled

With another bastion of the Arsene Wenger era leaving for AC Milan, there is a new-look leadership structure at Arsenal following the departure of Ivan Gazidis. 

Raul Sanllehi, formerly head of football relations, is taking on a new role as head of football and Vinai Venkatesham will move from his post as chief commercial officer to managing director.

So who exactly are the two men now placed in charge of Arsenal, filling the void left by Gazidis?

Raul Sanllehi

Sanllehi joined Arsenal in February 2018 from Barcelona, taking on a role as head of transfer operations to work alongside Sven Mislintat, who was recruited from Borussia Dortmund to look at recruitment.

His background saw him study in the U.S. and then join Nike in 1996, where he became managing director in Spain. He started work with Barcelona in 2002 and then moved into a role as director of relations with sports bodies in 2007. A year later he was appointed sporting director, a role he held for a decade, working under three presidents: Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Sanllehi played an invaluable role in persuading Neymar to join the club in 2013 and the club turned to him as a last resort to try and convince the Brazilian against joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. Though that failed, when Sanllehi left Barcelona he left behind a transfer legacy which included Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

At Arsenal he was one of a three-man panel who chose Emery as Wenger's successor, alongside Mislintat and Gazidis. And he played a key role in Arsenal's change of approach in last summer's transfer window as they acted with new-found efficiency in the market, tying up much of their business early as they brought in Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Matteo Guendouzi.

Vinai Venkatesham

Venkatesham arrived at Arsenal in 2010 as head of global partnerships and received two further promotions until he was appointed as the club's chief commercial officer in 2014, replacing Tom Fox who moved to Aston Villa as CEO.

He negotiated Arsenal's kit deal with Puma, and the renewed stadium sponsorship with Emirates while also presiding over partnerships, hospitality, business strategy, retail and media. Under his tenure, they were also the first Premier League side to enter into a cryptocurrency partnership.

Before Arsenal, he was commercial manager for London 2012 -- the team behind the 2012 Olympics -- and has spent time as a non-exec director for both the British Olympic Association and the 2017 IAAF World Championships.


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