Kia Joorabchian has downplayed suggestions that he has the power to influence Arsenal’s transfer strategy, dismissed links with his clients Joelsen Fernandes and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and accused Sven Mislintat, the club’s former head of scouting, of making ‘cock-ups’ on the recruitment front.
Long-established as one of the game’s powerbrokers, Joorabchian didn’t have much of a sniff during Arsene Wenger’s tenure despite being a supporter of the club. Since the Frenchman’s departure and a restructure of the football executive committee, the club has increasingly leaned on his expertise and the contact book of Sport Invest, the company he runs, when looking to get deals done.
Both David Luiz and Cedric Soares arrived with his help, Willian is set to do the same and he even played a role in Alex Iwobi’s move to Everton.
Against the backdrop of a big scouting cull, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Joorabchian’s recent work has led to suggestions that Arsenal are moving to a more agent-led recruitment policy. The arrival of Unai Emery and Pablo Mari, facilitated by another mover and shaker, Arturo Canales, have added further credence to the theory.
Joorabchian disputes the suggestion, telling talkSPORT that if anything he has fewer players at Arsenal than he does at certain other clubs. He also had a theory as to why the speculation started.
“I actually think a lot of rumours have occurred and I don’t know why.
“But obviously I think when Covid happened there was not much to say so people figured David Luiz was the key picture to speak about.
“And the situation of David because he is a big player, he is an important player, created this vibe of – ‘Oh, I have such great influence at Arsenal’.
“Factually, David had a two-year contract at Chelsea. Arsenal bought him for one plus one, so actually he went backwards. He took a major gamble to go there because of the situation.
“So that was the first player. The second was a free transfer of Cedric. They (Arsenal) needed the position. He was free. It made economical sense for them.
“The third [signing] is a very young boy that came from their academy, he is name is Omari [Hutchinson]. He has not even made it to the first team.
“Everyone else has made £80million transfers, £60m transfers, £50m transfers.
“You know, people forget about the previous guy, Sven [Mislintat], he made a bunch of, I don’t like to use the word, but cock-ups, with players that he brought in at very, very large numbers.
“We never did any of those deals. In fact, if you look at the profile of our group, we probably have a player at every single Premier League football club.
“I counted yesterday there are six Champions League teams left. We have players in five of those clubs.
“Having said that, Arsenal is probably the least number of players and the least amount of transfers.
“But when a story picks up, it goes. I was talking to Jose [Mourinho] after Pierre [-Emile Hojbjerg] signed [for Tottenham], and he said: ‘Ah, you were trying to get him to Arsenal’.
“We never tried to get him to Arsenal. He had an offer from Everton. A rumour picks up and people kind of think, oh that sounds good, let’s try and build on that because we have nothing else to write.
“But it is not true obviously. We have three players, one of them is not even in the first team, he is with the kids. The second one was a free transfer and David has proved himself.”
On a Joelsen, who Portuguese publication A Bola yesterday claimed was the subject of a €32 million bid from Arsenal, he added: “We have never ever spoken to him about Arsenal. It is so untrue.”
Whether Joorabchian is proactively looking to embed his presence at Arsenal or not is up for debate. What is clear is that this won’t be the last time we hear from him. He’s on very friendly terms with some sections of the media and has absolutely no qualms about piping up in defence of his clients whenever he gets the chance.
While our board seems happy enough to maintain an age-old policy of keeping quiet, it’s a pretty unseemly when a man who clearly has their ear doesn’t play by the same rules. More and more it feels like the club is having its dirty laundry aired in public for them and it’s not a great look.