Sven Mislintat says when he went to scout Matteo Guendouzi, he focused on the player’s weaknesses rather than his strengths, trying to decide if they were things that could improve sufficiently with coaching.
The Gunners snapped up the youngster this summer from Lorient for less than £8m, but the Head of Recruitment explained how the midfielder had been on his radar for some time – going back to the season before last when they were still in Ligue 1 and the then 17 year old made 8 appearances in the French top flight.
“I saw him at FC Lorient, when the club still was in the first division,” said Mislintat.
“I like the club, they always produce interesting players. Guendouzi stood out with his long hair and his personality.
“But I also concentrated on his weaknesses. Are they trainable? Matteo ran unnecessarily across the whole pitch, but I was sure that it would only be a matter of training and time, before he learned when to run.
“It was an important transfer for us, because we wanted to show the world – we’re still the old Arsenal, which gives opportunities to younger players.”
Having scouted some top notch players at Borussia Dortmund, Mislintat explained his role there and at Arsenal goes way beyond simply identifying talent, and he is involved in all aspects of the recruitment process.
“I was part of the team to choose Unai Emery as the next coach,” he explained.
“And ‘Head of Recriutment’ means I won’t only find targets but also get them to sign for the club.
“Even back in Dortmund there was no clear distincition (between the roles). For the transfers from Dan-Axel Zagadou, who we signed from PSG or Jadon Sancho from Manchester City, I held the talks with the agents, the players and their parents.”
As for the challenges he faces in England, he believes the strength of the rivals is something the Gunners have to contend with.
“If it’s leaked that we want to sign a player, at least two different clubs try to drive up the prices,” he said.
“In the Premier League there are at least three “Bayern Munichs”: the Manchester clubs and Chelsea. And there are three “Dortmunds”: Liverpool, Sp*rs and Arsenal.
“It’s a different contest.”
Translation via @Gandrasch