Arsenal fans have been so engulfed in all the Arsene Wenger talk of last season and who his predecessor would be, that a rather significant addition to the backroom staff went under the radar in late 2017.
Sven Mislintat had joined from Borussia Dortmund as chief scout, ending his decade-long affiliation with the Bundesliga side where he had certainly made a name for himself. Mislintat arrived on the scene at Dortmund as a scout having finished his degree at Ruhr University Bochum in Sports Science.
Mislintat’s first tidy piece of business was being the instigator behind Shinji Kagawa’s move from Cerezo Osaka in his homeland. The then 21-year-old had just finished top scorer of the J-League Division 2 and following some rigorous scouting in which Mislintat admits to compiling 10 to 15 pieces of video analysis across six visits to Japan solely on Kagawa, he was signed for €350,000. Mislintat commented on the Kagawa saga saying: “The key player for my career as a scout was Shinji Kagawa. When you find a young player in the second division and he joins for small money and can make the difference: That’s a key moment everyone needs in their career.”
Since Kagawa’s move, Mislintat has continued to extract steals from the footballing world, none more so than Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski, Jacub Blaszcyzkowki and Ousmane Dembele. The now-Bayern Munich pair were both signed for less than €5m each and alongside Blaszcyzkowski, became mainstays in that Dortmund side who were narrowly beaten by Bayern in the Champions League final of 2013. Dembele has been the best coup in recent years as he was picked up for €15m from Rennes and after just one season, he jetted off to Barcelona for a staggering €130m more than what he was signed for by Dortmund as the Catalan giants looked to replace the void left by Neymar’s departure.
Mislintat is now in North London after taking over the chief scout role from Steve Rowley, who had been in the role for 25 years. Mislintat had already got straight to business in the January transfer window very soon after joining as he re-connected with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, signed from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 when at Dortmund, and Pierre Emerick Aubameryang who Mislintat hand-picked from Saint Etienne to bring to Dortmund during his time there. Aubameryang netted 98 goals in 144 appearances and has 11 goals from 17 appearances in a Gunners shirt, despite the Gabonese striker having a wasteful tendency in front of goal, he can only get better.
As well as bringing in familiar faces, Mislintat has helped bring in lesser-known names such as Konstantinos Mavropanos who ex-boss Arsene Wenger was said to be impressed with from when he joined at the start of this year. Also, Matteo Guendouzi who has started every game under Unai Emery’s tutelage and barring greater positional awareness that comes with time, he has played remarkably. If Guendouzi is a snippet of the kind of steals Mislintat brings to the table, then Arsenal fans will be keen for more.
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