In April 2017, Ivan Gazidis spoke about Arsenal’s disappointing season said it would become a ‘catalyst for change’.
How much has changed since then though? Here’s a timeline of the significant events on and off the pitch.
Arsene Wenger signs a new two year contract with the club after our 2-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup.
CEO Ivan Gazidis says, “When you look at the world of football, and you think about the great candidates that there are … you don’t find any better candidates than Arsène Wenger.”
Gazidis oversees the appointment of Darren Burgess from Port Adelaide as Head of High Performance. This is the first sign the CEO has been given some power when it comes to recruitment of staff for the football side of the club. Up until now every appointment had to be rubber-stamped by Wenger, this one was not.
Huss Fahmy comes in from Team Sky to become Chief Contract Negotiator. With ongoing issues with Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, as well as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere all into the final 12 months of their deals, greater focus is needed on this particular area and it’s hoped the arrival of the new man will improve things.
Arsenal break their transfer record with the £50m capture of striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon, eclipsing the previous record of £42.5m on Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid in 2013.
Former Gunner Jens Lehmann returns to the club to take up a position as one of the first team coaches.
Sal Bibbo joins the staff as a goalkeeping coach from Reading.
Arsenal announce that from the summer of 2018, club captain Per Mertesacker will become the Academy Manager. In the meantime, he’ll play one more year and work with interim academy head, Luke Hobbs.
The BFG says, “This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team.”
After two years out on loan, Wojciech Szczesny officially leaves the club to join Juventus. He pens an emotional farewell to the club he grew up at and supported.
The Academy Head of Player Development, Jan van Loon, leaves the club to join former academy chief Andries Jonker at his new club Wolfsburg. Jonker is fired by the Bundesliga outfit in September.
Alexis Sanchez has made it clear he’s like to leave, but Arsene Wenger is unwilling to let that happen. The Frenchman says, “My decision is clear. He will stay, it’s as simple as that and he will respect that.”
As improvements behind the scenes continue, Arsenal install a state of the art cryotherapy chamber at London Colney.
Brazilian defender Gabriel joins Valencia for a fee of around £11m.
Having joined the club as a youth and making 229 appearances, Kieran Gibbs is sold to West Brom.
The Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saga comes to an end as the midfielder joins Liverpool for £40m, just days after playing a part in the Gunners pathetic 4-0 defeat to the Mugsmashers. A late deadline day bid for Thomas Lemar is unsuccessful despite a reported £90m offer.
Arsenal announce that extra capacity will be added to the stadium with extra seats will be installed in the club level area.
Dick Law, the transfer fixer and contract negotiator, sees his contract expire and leaves the club to spend more time with his family in the US.
After rumours appear in the press, Alisher Usmanov releases a statement to say he is not selling his stake in the club to Stan Kroenke. However, for the first time he says he could consider the idea, and his line which says, “I am not holding any talks with Mr Kroenke about a sale”, suggests the ice may be thawing between the two billionaires.
Whispers emerge that Arsenal are looking to appoint a Director of Football, and the first name linked with the job is Marc Overmars.
Reports in Spain say that Arsenal are set to appoint former Barcelona director of football Raul Sanllehi to a role they describe as Director of Operations.
On the day of a fractious AGM during which comments from Sir Chips Keswick cause dismay, Stan Kroenke reaffirms his long-term commitment to the club.
Joe Montemurro confirmed as new Arsenal Women head coach.
After it emerges that head scout Steve Rowley is to leave the club, reports link us with Borussia Dortmund’s recruitment guru Sven Mislintat.
Arsenal confirm the appointment of Mislintat and the departure of Rowley.
Arsenal confirm the appointment of Raul Sanllehi who will have the title of Head of Football Relations, or, Definitely Not Director of Football.
Wenger makes it clear that the Spaniard will work with him, and that Ivan Gazidis has no part in making transfers, tersely telling the press, “Ivan has nothing to do with buying players.”
The first signing of the Sven Mislintat era is made as young Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos joins the club. Initially, Arsene Wenger says he’ll go out on loan, but impressed by what he sees in training keeps him and he makes three appearances before the end of the season.
French midfielder Francis Coquelin is sold to Valencia.
Reports of Arsenal interest in Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang begin to emerge. In a not very subtle show that things at Arsenal are changing and that Wenger’s vice-like grip on football matters is weakening, Sven Mislintat tips off local press in Germany and he and Ivan Gazidis are pictured in Dortmund as they try to get the deal done.
Theo Walcott is sold to Everton for £20m, as rumours of a swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan become more concrete. Arsene Wenger calls this month, “…the most destabilising transfer window ever,” and it’s not simply because of external influence. It’s because of what’s happening inside the club too.
A deal which would have seemed impossible barely weeks before sees Arsenal swap Alexis Sanchez for Manchester United’s Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Stan Kroenke increases his shareholding in the club with the purchase of another 22 shares.
Arsenal sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a club record fee of £55m, while Olivier Giroud is sold to Chelsea. The Frenchman’s departure, along with Walcott and Sanchez, means the club have let go three players in one month who scored 60% of our goals the previous season.
Mathieu Debuchy is another senior departure as he joins Ligue 1 outfit Saint Etienne.
After months of wrangling, and with less than 6 months left on his current contract, Mesut Ozil signs a new long-term £350,000 a week contract with the club. The German says, “In the end I let my heart decide. As I always said, I feel at home here and I’m highly motivated to achieve big things in the next few years. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner!”
Arsene Wenger reminds everyone that he always respects his contracts as stories in the papers, placed there by journalists friendly to Ivan Gazidis, say change could be coming before the end of his current two year deal.
In Germany, kicker run a story to say that Thomas Tuchel is in line to replace Wenger when, not if, the manager leaves in the summer.
KSE announce that Josh Kroenke has been promoted to vice chairman of KSE and KSE UK.
Despite progress in Europe, Arsenal’s away form remains dreadful, and just three days after a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle, Arsene Wenger announces that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” says the Frenchman.
“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club.
“My love and support for ever.”
Stan Kroenke speaks of Wenger’s ‘unparalleled class’ in a statement, while later that afternoon, Ivan Gazidis, who nobody has heard from in months, holds an often toe-curling press conference in which he pays tribute to the manager, before saying, “In the coming weeks and months, the world will see the unity and power of this great football club, and the people within it.”
With the last hope of silverware gone after defeat to Atletico Madrid, Wenger takes charge of his final home game. Fittingly, the Gunners beat Burnley 5-0 on day of love and celebration at the Emirates.
“I would like to finish in one simple sentence: I will miss you,” said the Frenchman on the pitch after the game.
“Thank you all for having such an important part of my life, thank you all, well done. Bye bye.”
Freddie Ljungberg’s return to the club is confirmed, he’ll take charge of the U23s in Per Mertesacker’s new look academy.
Many candidates are mentioned for the manager’s job, including Juventus boss Max Allegri, but Mikel Arteta becomes the name on almost everyone’s lips and the Spaniard is hotly tipped to be appointed.
On this day, Wenger takes charge of his final ever game as Arsenal boss, a 1-0 win over Huddersfield.
Allegri says he’s staying with Juventus, leaving the door open for Arteta to take over from Wenger.
The former captain has been in close contact with the club, having had many meetings, and spends the weekend in London looking for houses as he finalises his move back from Manchester where he has been working as an assistant to Pep Guardiola.
With almost everyone expecting Arteta to become the new manager, Arsenal spring a surprise by announcing the appointment of former Sevilla, Valencia and PSG boss, Unai Emery.
The news is a shock, as best illustrated by the reaction when it was announced at the half-time break of a live Arsecast Extra in which the first period had been dominated by discussion of Arteta. Go to 42’11 in the player below to listen.
Gazidis unveils the new head coach at a press conference, showing him around the stadium and, of course, our famous tunnel area, before outlining the process which resulted in the 46 year old being given the job.
Emery speaks broken English but faces the press in his non-native language to talk about what he sees as the important parts of his job.
“It is about showing that personality and showing the stature of this football club,” he says.
“What we want to do is not fear any team neither here in the Premier League or in Europe and our objective is to be among the best and to beat the best.”
Javi Garcia is set to be brought in as the club’s new goalkeeping coach.
Arsenal sign veteran Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner.
A list of 12 players to be released is made public, among them Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla whose contracts have expired.
The club appoint Dutchman Marcel Lucassen as Head of Football Development at Academy level, and Lee Heron, Reading’s Academy manager, also arrives to add experience to Mertesacker’s team.
The club announce Unai Emery’s coaching staff, and while Steve Bould is retained, an unimpressed Jens Lehmann is let go, as are Neil Banfield, Tony Colbert, Gerry Peyton and Boro Primorac. As well as the Head of Medical Services, Colin Lewin, physiotherapists Andy Rolls and Ben Ashworth, osteopath Dr Philippe Boixel and Travel Manager Paul Johnson.
Bernd Leno’s £22.5m signing from Bayer Leverkeusen is completed, while Jack Wilshere announces his intention to leave after 17 years at Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of the month.
Arsenal bring in Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund for £16m, another Sven signing.
Former Liverpool and Crystal Palace physio, Chris Morgan, is appointed as one of the first team physios.
Lucas Torreira’s signing from Sampdoria is confirmed, the £26.5m spent on the Uruguayan makes him the most expensive deal of the summer.
Relatively unknown French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi joins from Ligue 2 side Lorient.
Physio and sports scientist Tim Parham – head of Port Adelaide’s rehabilitation program – moves to North London to join up with his former boss Darren Burgess.
Arsenal insist they are unaware of any links between AC Milan and Ivan Gazidis.
The Financial Times report that Alisher Usmanov is actively seeking to sell his holding in Arsenal, having come to the conclusion that he will never be anything other than a minority shareholder.
Arsenal release a statement about the Ivan Gazidis AC Milan links. It does nothing to dampen the speculation, in fact the language of it simply adds fuel to the fire. Perhaps that was their intention.
Seismic events take place at ownership level as Alisher Usmanov, who has long said he would never sell to Stan Kroenke, does exactly that. It means that the American can take 100% control of the club, as he can make compulsory purchases of all other shares. The Russian will make a significant profit on his initial investment, and the deal values Arsenal at around £1.8bn.
Showing real boardroom decisiveness, the club reportedly tell Ivan Gazidis he has to sort out his future before September … some time … whenever might be convenient for him.
AC Milan confirm talks with Gazidis are ‘ongoing’.
The club confirm that Ivan Gazidis is to leave the club at the end of October, and will take up his new position with AC Milan in December.
Raul Sanllehi is appointed Head of Football, while Chief Commercial Officer, Vinai Venkatesham, is made Managing Director.
And here we are. By any standards it’s an extraordinary amount of change from top to bottom, dressing room to boardroom. Let’s hope the people now tasked with running the club have a clear vision of where they want us to go and how they want us to get there.
Time will tell.