Sanllehi: Arsenal ‘protected their interests’ over Ramsey deal

Joe Williams

Raul Sanllehi says it could have been “very harmful” for Arsenal to try and match the “incredible offers” Aaron Ramsey received to leave the club.

Ramsey will leave the Gunners this summer to join Juventus as a free agent after his contract in north London was allowed to run down.

The Welshman is theoretically enjoying his peak years at 28 – although the same could have been said of Alexis Sanchez when he joined Manchester United at the age of 29 in a similar scenario.

Talking to Arsenal’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.”

Unai Emery’s squad are currently preparing for next week’s Europa League final against Chelsea.

The outcome of the showdown in Baku will determine whether or not the Gunners can offer potential new players Champions League football once again.

As part of a wide-ranging interview with Arsenal Media alongside managing director Vinai Venkatesham, Sanllehi gave an insight into the moves ahead as the club look to build again following the summer departures of Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey and veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech.

“What I can tell you is that we have identified very clearly and unanimously with our head coach and technical people, we know what we want to prioritise and we’re very clear on what our priorities are,” Sanllehi said.

“We’re already in the market and we’re already talking with the people that can help us to cover those positions and I feel quite strong.

“It’s going well and the image that Arsenal has in the football world is very strong.

“Vinai was mentioning we’re a top world club and we are, so we need to go where we belong and that’s the Champions League.

“Many players really want us to be there also when we’re talking with them, but I feel quite strong on the inputs that I’m getting so far.

“I do believe that we have a very good plan to cover those positions to be much stronger next year, to deliver the success that we’re all hoping for.”

Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League, just a point behind rivals Tottenham, after Emery’s first campaign at the helm.

Getting back into Europe’s elite club competition remains the prime directive, but Sanllehi is confident Arsenal “have a lot to offer to a player”.

He continued: “I don’t feel in disadvantage with anybody. The Premier League, is exciting for any player in the world. London, Arsenal, the history, the dimension of the club, the stadium, the facilities at Colney, the fan base, the followers around the world and the exposure.

“Really, I feel like I have a lot of ammunition when I talk with players to engage them in our project.”