All of Sven Mislintat's Arsenal signings graded
Photo: Getty Images,TF-Images

All of Sven Mislintat's Arsenal signings graded

Amid rumours of discontent, it was confirmed on Monday by Arsenal Football Club that head of recruitment Sven Mislintat would be leaving the club at the start of February.

andy-preston
Andy Preston

Having joined from Borussia Dortmund in November 2017, it appeared that Arsenal had pulled off a real coup by hiring one of the highest rated scouts in world football, having been Dortmund’s head of recruitment during a golden period at the club which saw them win two Bundesliga titles under Jurgen Klopp.

However, after just 14 months in north London, Sven Mislintat will be departing due to complications as the German became frustrated at the lack of Arsenal’s transfer activity amid his recommendations.

The Gunners made eight signings during Mislintat’s time at the club, some of which have been revolutionary at the Emirates and others less so, here are all of Mislintat’s signings graded.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (swap deal for Alexis Sanchez) - Grade C

Arsenal fans had become resigned to the fact that contract rebel Alexis Sanchez no longer wanted to play his football at the Emirates and it looked as if the Gunners were going to receive a poor price for a player in such hot form.

That was until Manchester United hijacked Manchester City’s apparent deal for the forward with the promise of astronomical wages in a deal which saw Arsenal negotiate a swap deal with out of favour Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan relocating to north London.

Mkhitaryan, on paper at least, seemingly suited the archetypal Arsenal player of the last decade, a player who possesses an impressive amount of flair and creativity in his game, but the Armenian had struggled to adapt to the Premier League at Old Trafford.

His first Premier League start at the Emirates was full of promise with Mkhitaryan claiming three assists as Arsenal romped to a 5-1 victory against Everton, however, he has struggled to maintain any kind of consistent form in his year in north London.

It’s clear to see that Mkhitaryan has a huge amount of ability and has shown flashes of his brilliance, including scoring for Arsenal on his return to Old Trafford last season and scoring an important goal at the San Siro in Arsenal’s 2-0 Europa League win. But ultimately, he’s failed to make a big impression on the Arsenal faithful as of yet and his vast wages could see him dispatched in the summer if consistency is not seen in the latter half of the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£56million) - Grade A

Mislintat’s Borussia Dortmund links came to fruition in the 2018 January window as Arsenal pulled off the coup of signing one of Europe’s most highly rated strikers.

Forking out a club record £56million to bring the flamboyant striker to north London, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been nothing short of a revelation in his time at the Emirates. Aubameyang netted on his debut in the 5-1 win over Everton and went on to record ten goals in just thirteen Premier League games in the 2017/18 season, engraving his name into the history books as the last Arsenal goal scorer under Arsene Wenger’s reign.

The 2018/19 season has seen Aubameyang continue his remarkable scoring form and Gunners fans have rejoiced in his on and off the field relationship with Alexandre Lacazette which has been a formidable asset in attack.

The Gabon striker further endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful by scoring a brace in the north London Derby as Arsenal completed a dramatic comeback to overcome Tottenham Hotspur with a 4-2 victory.

With 14 Premier League goals to his name already this season, Aubameyang is in the running for the golden boot award and his scoring will be integral to any hopes of a top-four finish.

Konstantinos Mavropanos (£2million) - Grade B-

A difficult one to grade considering the Greek defender has only made three appearances for the club with injuries limiting his opportunities thus far this season.

However, a B- grade may be fitting due to the promise that Mavropanos has shown in his limited playing time, most notably putting in an accomplished performance at centre-back at Old Trafford last season.

Mavropanos has looked assured and composed, praised for his aerial presence and composure on the ball as the Greek defender started in Arsene Wenger’s last ever home match in charge at Arsenal.

Despite being sent off in the away loss at Leicester City after just fifteen minutes for a last man challenge, the Greek defender has shown plenty of potential for the future and is likely to be showcased regularly in the second half of the season with his return from injury imminent.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (£18million) - Grade B+

It was clear that Arsenal needed defensive reinforcements in the summer and while Gunners fans may have been hoping for more than one incoming centre back, they had to settle with just the one and subsequently another former Borussia Dortmund player.

However, in Sokratis, Arsenal have acquired themselves a defender that simply loves to defend. Arsenal’s defensive problems are still there for all to see, but the Greek has added an element of stability to the Arsenal backline and has been fairly consistent for a defender who was written off by many in the summer.

Possessing a surprising amount of pace for a 30-year-old, Sokratis has been arguably Arsenal’s best defender so far this season and looks to have been a shrewd piece of business by the Gunners who may consider bringing in a long-term partner for the Greek defender in the summer.

Most notably putting in a stunning performance alongside Laurent Koscielny in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Chelsea last weekend, Sokratis showed his love for defending and threw his fists into the air as if he had just scored a goal after putting in a last-ditch tackle on Willian. An attitude and desire that is certainly welcomed by Arsenal fans.

Matteo Guendouzi (£8million) - Grade B+

Coming to the Emirates as a relatively unknown prospect in the summer from French second division side Lorient, no one could have anticipated the impact Matteo Guendouzi would have in his debut season at the Emirates.

Being thrown into the deep end after being given a start on the opening day of the season against Manchester City, the young French midfielder was praised for his willingness to show for the ball and his inclination to play the ball forward.

He’s been subject to criticism from small sections of the fanbase this season, however, Guendouzi has shown great promise at such a young age and shown several attributes which could see him become a hugely successful player at Arsenal for years to come if his potential is realised.

Guendouzi has made 20 Premier League appearances already this season and looks to be a real prospect for the future and at just 19 years of age, the Gunners may have found themselves another young gem.

Lucas Torreira (£26million) - Grade A

"The signing that Arsenal has been crying out for, for years."

If there was a pound for every time that phrase has been used to describe Lucas Torreira this season, Arsenal could probably have recouped a large percentage of his transfer fee.

Torreira has made a monumental impact to the Arsenal side who have lacked a natural defensive midfielder for a decade. However, it would be foolish to limit Torreira’s potential to that of just defensive cover for the defence.

The Uruguayan turned heads with his performances at the 2018 World Cup and has been a revelation in the Premier League this season. Noted for his tenacity in the tackle and his willingness to press and win the ball back for his side which has contributed to Arsenal’s impressive running stats this season.

Torreira is quickly becoming a cult hero in north London and did himself a few favours to earn that status after scoring the fourth and final goal in Arsenal’s north London Derby win proceeded by his jubilant celebration to lift the roof off an often-subdued Emirates atmosphere.

A late winner with an acrobatic finish against Huddersfield in a 1-0 win has only heightened his popularity at Arsenal and at just 22 years of age, Arsenal look to have made a great investment.

Stephan Lichtsteiner (free transfer) - Grade D

This looked to be a smart piece of business in the summer as Arsenal reinforced their options at right-back to provide cover for Hector Bellerin by bringing in the vastly experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner.

However, things haven’t quite gone to plan with the Swiss international required to play more minutes than both his manager and he may have hoped when arriving in the summer. He’s been exposed on several occasions for his lack of pace and despite his defensive astuteness, has mostly struggled to adapt the pace of Premier League football.

His off the pitch impact and passing on of experience is likely to be of more use than his on the field performances but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him hang his boots up come the end of the season.

Bernd Leno (£19million) - Grade B-

The jury is still out on this one to an extent with Bernd Leno only being preferred as Emery’s number one in the last few months.

Arsenal’s leaky defence may be to blame more than Leno himself, but he can't be spared of all the blame and has made a few blunders. Most notably against Southampton as his missed punch allowed Charlie Austin to score the winner for the struggling Saints.

However, on a more positive note Leno is clearly suited to Unai Emery’s philosophy much more than Petr Cech and looks remarkably comfortable with the ball at his feet and at 26-years of age, his peak is most probably yet to come.

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