There comes a time when you have to say: things just didn’t work out. We find Arsenal at its nadir currently, on the crossroads so to say. The stadium which promised European glory – in Ivan Gazidis’ words – could barely drive Arsenal to a few domestic crumbs. It is time for change in the Arsenal structure.
Arsenal need another David Dein – someone who would move things forward on the transfer market and off the pitch; someone who would take the weight off Wenger’s shoulders should he stay for two more years. Arsenal need a sporting director.
Whether we like Wenger to stay is not the question. The question is who would fit in best for the ‘forgotten in England’ sporting director role.
Here is the list of candidates so far and their grading:
1. Marc Overmars
Sporting director of Ajax since 2012, Marc Overmars has been overseeing the Dutch club’s transfers and football ethos. He’s brought mixed results to Ajax, winning the Dutch title in two successive years following his appointment but not much else in the following years.
Overmars has been relatively poor on the transfer market, most evident Ajax’s failure to replace Christian Eriksen when he moved to Tottenham in 2013. The Former Gunner opted for promotion from within the youth system but Lerin Duarte, who was identified as replacement, has failed to fill the shoes.
Something Arsenal would find appealing is Overmars’ penchant for money, having built a number of successful businesses outside football. Ultimately, he has shown nothing that would make us think he would be the right choice.
2. Alexander Rosen
Rosen has been Hoffenhaim’s director of football since 2013.
Among his most standout achievements sits the development and sale of Roberto Firminho for a profit near the 40 million mark. Rosen has been directly involved in the uncovering one of football’s youngest and most talented managers – Julian Nagelsmann.
29-year-old Nagelsmann assumed the managerial position at Hoffenhaim in February 2016 when the club was sweating over relegation. For a little less than 10 months, he drove them to third behind Bayern Munich and FC Leipzig and in for Champions League football next season.
Rosen has been relatively new to the job but judging by what he’s achieved so far, he’s far from being a future mistake.
3. Michael Zorc
Stellar work and Zorc go hand in hand at Borussia Dortmund. Boasting one of Europe’s most attractive styles of play, Dortmund have successfully utilized the use of young talent well enough to compensate for losing a number of key players – on top of making a hefty profit.
Zorc is well-connected and is experienced with dealing with player departures and rebuilding squads, making him a very fitting choice for the Arsenal sporting director position.
Zorc extended his contract with Dortmund, which now stretches to 2019, meaning he would cost some extra money, but he might be well worth it.
4. Patrick Vieira
Arsenal fans would relish the opportunity seeing one of their own men back for a backroom role. But there are complications.
Wenger and Vieira are not on best terms. The Invincible has already revealed bitter disappointment at Arsene Wenger’s negligence to offer him a staff job after his retirement as a player. The bitterness eventually pushed him into a development position at Manchester City instead.
Wenger is not one to share power, especially with a former player, but with the decision of choosing a sporting director in the hands of the board, he would have little choice but to adapt.
Vieira perhaps lacks the scouting network other candidates have, but he has a keen eye for talent and his influence over the players could come in handy.
5. Robert Pires
Long-time Arsenal associate and Invincible Robert Pires has also expressed appetite for working with Arsenal. He regularly attends first-team training sessions and cares deeply about the club.
There is the question over experience and lack of substantial contacts, but his heart is in the right place and he is in good relationship with Wenger.