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Arsenal appoint ex-Barcelona sporting director Raul Sanllehi

The Exploding Heads wrap up a wild matchday 16 in England with Premier League in 90 seconds (plus stoppages).
The ESPN FC panel discuss how Arsenal's winning mentality has continued to erode under Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal have appointed Barcelona's outgoing director of football Raul Sanllehi as their new head of football relations.

Sanllehi's contract with Barcelona runs out on Dec. 1, and he will move to the Premier League club Arsenal to take up his new role in February.

The club announced that Sanllehi would "lead future player negotiations" alongside manager Arsene Wenger, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy as well as "represent and support the club with international and domestic governing bodies."

Gazidis told the club's official website: "In the past three years we have supplemented our team with more top-class expertise across every aspect of our football operations.

"Raul's appointment is another important step in developing the infrastructure we need at the club to take everything we do to the next level. Raul has extensive contacts across the football world and has been directly involved in some of the biggest transfers in Europe in recent years. We look forward to him bringing that expertise to Arsenal."

Raul Sanllehi reportedly played a key role in Barcelona's signing of Neymar.

Sanllehi's arrival will be another major part in the ongoing reshuffle of Arsenal's backroom staff, with CEO Ivan Gazidis having also brought in Borussia Dortmund's chief scout Sven Mislintat earlier this month to head up recruitment operations.

Sanllehi has been credited with playing a key role in Barcelona's signing of Neymar from Brazilian club Santos and has a reputation as one of Europe's most respected transfer negotiators.

The backroom shuffle by Gazidis is seen by many as an attempt to prepare Arsenal for life after Wenger, who has kept a number of key staff members on for a large part of his 21-year reign as manager.

Arsenal announced in September that transfer negotiator Dick Law was stepping down, while chief scout Steve Rowley has also taken on a lighter workload since Mislintat's appointment and is expected to eventually retire.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.

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