Borussia Dortmund and Sven Mislintat reunited: A cause for joy or concern?

Borussia Dortmund have reunited with former scout Sven Mislintat, with the German taking on the role of Squad Planner. What can Dortmund expect with this reunion, and is it a cause for elation or concern?
Excelsior Rotterdam v AFC Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie
Excelsior Rotterdam v AFC Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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Sven Mislintat
Ajax v Heracles Almelo - Dutch Eredivisie / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Arsenal: From Diamonds to Dust

Unlike Mislintat’s time at Dortmund, his time at Arsenal is seen as the beginning of his misadventures in terms of identifying and signing talent. Mislintat joined Arsenal in November of 2017 as the club's new Sporting Director.

While many consider his time at Arsenal to be relatively underwhelming, he did join the club at a transitional period in their history, with legendary manager Arsene Wenger largely on his way out by the time Mislintat was appointed. During his time with the club, he was responsible for eight signings total: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dinos Mavropanos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Taking a look at the list in question, we see a trend start to form in terms of how Mislintat works when he’s signing players for any given club - he likes to trust his gut and go with players he believes are proven quantities at other clubs he’s been involved with. Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Sokratis were all players that Mislintat had a hand in signing for Dortmund, so bringing them in was likely a logical move for Mislintat. Of course, the results were a mixed bag. 

Aubameyang proved himself to be a resounding success for Arsenal in his early years with the club, even becoming their captain. He won the Premier League golden boot and the FA Cup with Arsenal before deteriorating relations between Mikel Arteta and the player forced Aubameyang out. Sokratis was a defensive stalwart for Arsenal for quite a few years, just as he was with Dortmund. Mkhitaryan would certainly be considered more of a failed transfer as his impact (on the pitch) on the club was minimal. Then there are of course the signings of Guendouzi, Torreira and Leno, who all never really lived up to their full potential while with the Gunners. 

Despite this, Mislintat defends his decisions from the Arsenal days, stating that he backs each and every one of his signings from this period:

"To be quite clear: I don’t feel ashamed of any of those transfers, on the contrary, I will always defend these guys. Not because they were my players but because they were Arsenal players and capable ones…They turned up. The team went unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions, made it to the Europa League final and finished fifth with 70 points. You can say that’s not good enough. But many teams would love to finish fifth now."

Sven Mislintat (Football London)

With Mkhitaryan in particular, his reasoning was quite interesting to take note of, with Mislintat noting his off field qualities as one of the main attributes he valued in the Armenian international:

"Henrikh Mkhitaryan?…Miki was more than a good deal for the squad and for the accounts… you gain a player who speaks seven languages and connects with everyone in the dressing room, important in that moment. He’s a top pro and an outstanding person. He leads by example, worked really hard. He led players like Matteo [Guendouzi]. People underestimate him, I will never do that."

Sven Mislintat (Football London)

This signing gives more insight on Mislintat’s methodologies, which is something we’ll explore later in more depth. With Mislintat’s time coming to an end, his next stop would see him return to the Bundesliga with VFB Stuttgart, where he would lay the groundwork for where the club is this season.