Arsenal allowed Aaron Ramsey to join Juventus on a free transfer because his salary demands would have wrecked the balance of the wage bill and caused long-term harm to the club, according to their head of football.
Raul Sanllehi has revealed in greater detail the reasons behind Ramsey’s departure to Italy at the end of this season, saying that the club had to keep the “rationality” in salaries to prevent a damaging imbalance in the squad.
Sanllehi, who took over as head of football following the departure of chief executive Ivan Gazidis earlier this season, said Ramsey had “incredible offers” which Arsenal would have been irresponsible to match.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Sanllehi said: “For circumstances, whatever it was, we went to the last year of his contract. That’s a problem.
“We have to be responsible on how we manage the club. One of the key things for me - and I’ve seen that happening in other clubs - one of the key things is to keep the rationality in the salary balance of the team.
“Because of our circumstances, because of not renewing Aaron on time, we were in a situation in which Aaron had incredible offers building up on the salary. He was really keen on staying with us, he was ready to make the effort, but at the end of the whole process we had to be responsible for ourselves and protect the interests of Arsenal.
“We realised we were going to cause an imbalance that would have been very harmful for the team’s sake in the medium and longer term.”
Sanllehi said the situation is similar with Danny Welbeck, who is also leaving the club after next week’s Europa League final against Chelsea, when he could make his return from long-term injury. Welbeck had offers to leave last summer but chose to run down his contract this season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal expect to confirm the appointment of a technical director “very soon”. They are understood to have held talks with Edu, the former Arsenal midfielder who now works for the Brazilian FA, about filling the role after this summer’s Copa America. Their first target was recruitment guru Monchi, who instead returned to Sevilla earlier this season.
The technical director will be charged with overseeing the medium and long-term direction of the team, including the playing philosophy and recruitment.
“That role is really crucial in the whole model,” said Sanllehi. “We are hoping to be able to get that covered very soon… We are only missing that piece. Surely we are going to be able to cover for him in the short term but when we are talking mid-term and long term we really need that position.”
Arsenal have long been planning for the summer transfer window, though, despite the absence of a technical director. Their business, and their budget, will be affected by whether they qualify for next season’s Champions League by beating Chelsea in Baku next week.
Arsenal have expressed interest in Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who would be a more expensive wide option than Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser. They are also among a number of Premier League clubs who are interested in Getafe defender Djene Dakonam, who would cost more than £20m.
Sanllehi said the status of Arsenal makes the club appealing to players irrespective of whether they reach next season’s Champions League, but added: “Of course, the fact that we have not been in the Champions League for two years and we are in question marks now for the next year, that is not helpful.
“But again, the image of Arsenal is strong enough to build a case about all the model we are bringing up, the new era that we are bringing up. It’s very exciting.”