Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Kia Joorabchian likes to talk about Arsenal

Morning all, hope you’re all doing well. It’s the end of another week, one which has been pretty quiet from an Arsenal perspective, but with players away on their breaks after the hectic end of season that’s not unexpected.

We haven’t heard much from anyone at the club with regards to football or our plans this summer, again not unsurprising. It’d be rare for the Head of Football or the Technical Director of any club to just give us a PowerPoint presentation about what it is they’re going to do. Someone we have heard plenty from though, is Kia Joorabchian. He likes to talk to TalkSport radio, and a few weeks ago he made some comments about what was going at Arsenal, vaguely in the context of David Luiz and his contract extension.

It wasn’t clear what he meant when he said, “There are several issues within the whole structure that will get resolved,” back in late June, but following the departure of our Head of Recruitment Francis Cagigao, and almost all of our senior scouts in key markets, it’s now pretty obvious. It should be a worry that any agent is privy to that kind of inside information, but given Joorabchian’s long-standing relationship with Edu, and also Raul Sanllehi, it’s not a surprise.

At the time I felt uneasy that he thought it was ok to speak about the structures of a club at which he has no official capacity, and his comments yesterday make me even more so. He accused Sven Mislintat of making ‘cock-ups’ in the transfer market, in an effort to play down and dial back stories on his reported influence at Arsenal, he said:

People forget about the previous guy Sven. He made a bunch of, I don’t like to use the word, but cock-ups with players that he brought in at very large numbers.

We never did any of those deals. Arsenal probably has the least number of players and the least number of transfers but when a story picks up it kind of goes but it’s not true.

Like any recruitment chief, Sven had hits and misses. Some signings were good, some not so good, but two of best players of the season were Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno, both brought to the under his watch. Also, while Joorabchian might have been referring to Edu, his use of the phrase ‘previous guy’ is clumsy at best, and at worst belies a comfort with his dealings at Arsenal which should set people’s spider senses tingling.

How is that this man feels so emboldened to talk about what’s going at this club? Do the Arsenal executives give him that permission, whether it’s tacit or otherwise? Whichever it is, it’s not a good look for any football club to have an agent spouting off about what’s happened in the past, or what’s going to happen in the future.

Again, I’ll frame it like this: If you saw this going on at another club, where the two senior football executives had a relationship with an agent who watched games with them in the Director’s Box and was then all over national media talking about that club, what would you think? When that agent represents a 32 year old player about to sign a longer contract than most 32 years olds get anywhere, on the back of bringing a couple of his other clients, how would you view it?

I’d suggest that if the players said agent had brought to the club already were top quality, you might find it easier to live with, but David Luiz had a good end to what was a record-breakingly error strewn campaign, and Cedric Soares was someone Southampton didn’t want, so it’s hard to get too excited about him. As I wrote about Willian the other day, he is a good player and you can see how he would add something to the team right now, but it’s hard not to have some reservations about the deal in the context of his age, contract length, and this relationship that exists between Edu, Raul, and Joorabchian.

Let’s be clear, having relationships with agents is a good thing because of how the transfer market works. If you can find a way to gain an advantage to increase your chances of signing top talent, nobody could ever find fault with that. I also think that people who suggest our recruitment could improve have a valid point, but I’d say every fan of every club would say that, from the top of the leagues to the bottom. However, if that pool of agents is small – or at least appears to be based on the deals you’re doing – you have limited access to the market, and that can’t be a good thing.

I’m sure we’ll sign players during this window who are not represented by Kia Joorabchian, or Arturo Canales – another Sanllehi favourite. Nevertheless, despite those on high surely being aware that the perception of their relationship with Joorabchian is open to question, he feels fine about going public on what’s happening at the club outside the parameters of the players he represents. That’s not great.

In recent weeks, KSE appointed Tim Lewis, a lawyer they’ve worked with down the years, as a non-executive director. Given the distance from the US, the current restrictions in terms of travel etc, I think it’s smart they have someone with eyes and ears on the ground, so to speak. If I were him, this is something I’d be keeping a careful eye on. Which isn’t to say there’s anything untoward going on, but when it comes to the amount of money that sloshes in and out of football clubs in and around transfers, it’d be one of the areas that demands proper scrutiny.

Anyway, for now, as we wait for information about our transfer window plans and what’s going on at Arsenal, we’ll just have to tune into TalkSport to wait for Joorabcian’s next appearance.

Hopefully there’ll be a podcast a bit later on today.

To the good people ❤️

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