Arsenal’s new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has admitted that expectations in him at his new club are “sky high.”
Mislintat left Borussia Dortmund for Arsenal last month, having been responsible for several key transfers at the Westfalenstadion, including the signings of Ousmane Dembele, Shinji Kagawa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Speaking to kicker, the 45-year-old, who began his work at Arsenal on Dec. 1, said he is aware of the pressure he has put himself under by making the move to the Emirates Stadium.
“When I flip through the press in England and Germany, it appears a new Dembele is expected of me in every transfer period. The expectations are sky high,” he said.
Barcelona forward Dembele, 20, joined Dortmund from Stade Rennes for around €15 million in 2016, and only a year later was sold on to the Catalan giants for a fee of €105m plus bonuses.
“When I started out at Dortmund [in late 2006] I had other options to develop at a club with grown structures,” he said. “I was able to build and grow into the role. These days, Arsenal sign me with brutal expectations — it can’t get any higher in their perception.”
Mislintat’s work at Dortmund helped shaped the club as much as that of head coaches Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel. During that time, the club’s transfer philosophy involved targeting players with big potential, first in smaller leagues like Poland or Japan — from where Robert Lewandowski and Kagawa were respectively signed — and later in young age groups, and Mislintat confirmed he will be working in a similar way with the Gunners as he did at Dortmund.
“Spending big is not the approach of the owner, nor is that of Arsene [Wenger],” he said.
However, Mislintat warned that it takes more than signing a head of recruitment to make smart deals.
“Getting me is not a sure-fire success for good transfers,” he said. “You need an excellent team willing to work incredibly hard, and also fired up for finding the new Ousmane Dembele or Dan-Axel Zagadou.”
Mislintat’s arrival, as well as Raul Sanllehi’s move from Barcelona, has been seen as an indicator that Arsenal are preparing for life after Wenger, but the former BVB man played down such talk, saying he is looking forward to working with the Gunners manager, who played a role in his move.
“Arsene and CEO Ivan Gazidis are the two persons I report to,” he said. “I am looking forward to [working with] him. I can only learn from someone who has shown his qualities for decades.”
Mislintat added: “Only Sir Alex Ferguson was in office even longer. Wenger won the FA Cup in May, for the seventh time in 21 years. Three titles on top of that. I think it’s tough on him to deny him success.”
And while Mislintat said that he has the “greatest respect” for Dortmund, he did not rule out signing any players from the Bundesliga side, adding: “It’s also a fact that we are competitors now.”
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.