The head of recruitment is set to leave his post prematurely, but his biggest signing of all will ensure his lasting legacy at the Emirates Stadium
All in all, Sven Mislintat’s time at Arsenal has been somewhat underwhelming, with the head of recruitment confirming he’s set to exit the club in February after only 14 months at the helm.
It’s a premature departure for the former Borussia Dortmund man, who initially penned a three-year deal when he arrived during the final throes of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
The Gunners were surely expecting the German to replicate his immense impact at Borussia Dortmund, where signing such as Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Ousmane Dembele and Jakub Blaszczykowski were part of BVB’s transformation.
Certainly, Mislintat’s influence at the club underpinned Jurgen Klopp’s successful tenure in the Ruhr, and it was surely anticipated that he would have given Unai Emery a platform upon which to help Arsenal move on from Wenger’s time in charge.
Ultimately, Mislintat’s time at the club has been too brief to replicate his Dortmund impact, while his signings are yet to truly demonstrate that they can right the wrongs of the Gunners’ past recruitment.
That is, with one glaring exception.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose arrival at Dortmund Mislintat had previously overseen, was the only player the German signed twice, the biggest signing he made at Arsenal, and his only truly overwhelming success.
The Gabon international has ensured that while Mislintat’s time at the Emirates Stadium has been brief, he’s left a legacy at the club.
The 46-year-old originally moved to sign Auba in 2013 following his breakout year with Saint-Etienne, where he was the second top scorer in Ligue 1.
Aubameyang was recruited as the replacement for Bayern Munich-bound Lewandowski—another Mislintat hit—and enjoyed four and a half years of consistent goalscoring in Germany.
Despite playing on the right for significant chunks of his time at the Bundesliga, Aubameyang netted 141 goals in 213 outings for the German giants—firmly establishing his standing as one of Europe’s most fearsome forwards.
Indeed, by the time Mislintat convinced him to join Arsenal—for a £56 million fee that could be considered a bargain in the context of current inflated transfer prices—Aubameyang was the reigning Bundesliga top scorer, having unseated Lewandowski.
He may never have won the German title, but the attacker did clinch the 2017 German Cup during his time with BVB, and that 31-goal haul in his final full season had prompted reported interest from Real Madrid.
Ultimately, the 2017 Bundesliga Player of the Year moved to the Emirates, where he would be the last major signing of Wenger’s reign.
There were no guarantees that Aubameyang, already 28 when he arrived in England, would adapt to life in the Premier League, yet the striker has been a thorough sensation in the top flight.
To date, he’s netted 24 goals in 36 league games for the Gunners, with only Mohamed Salah scoring more during that period.
He’s announced himself as a supreme finisher, and is one of only three Prem forwards to strike 20 or more goals since the start of 2017.
Notably, he has one more goal than Harry Kane, despite having taken 43 shots on target compared to the Tottenham Hotspur man’s 56.
There are questions, admittedly, about his impact in the big games, or his ability—sometimes—to take the ‘big chances’, but as Goal’s Duncan Alexander pointed out over the weekend, “it’s hard to argue with the Arsenal forward’s impressive consistency.”
In the club’s Premier League history, Thierry Henry is the fastest player to 25 goals, but while the French legend took 42 games to reach that tally, Auba will hit the quarter century much sooner.
His goals alone will ensure that Mislintat’s legacy at the club is brief but significant, even if many of his other signings—the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis and Bernd Leno—haven’t truly demonstrated their top quality.