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There was a time, back in May, when Arsenal were looking at appointing a director of football, and names like Monchi and Andoni Zubizarreta were doing the rounds.
The former left AS Roma and eventually returned to Sevilla, while the latter never seemed close to exiting his job at Marseille, where he currently remains.
Despite doing an adequate job in the south of France, Zubizarreta still comes under a lot of scrutiny, as tends to be the case for most things involving the Ligue 1 side, but the transfer chief, unlike others, doesn’t shy from it. In fact, he embraces it.
So much so that he sat down with Marseille fan website Le Phocéen for nearly two hours for a Q&A with fans about all the things that go on behind the scenes, which included his future.
Asked about the rumours that circulated in May about a move to Arsenal, he said: “It’s very simple. The guy in charge of all this at Arsenal, Raúl Sanllehí, we worked together at Barcelona. The structure there was nearly the same to here. I was the director of sports, and he was the director of football.
“He was more in charge of things like papers, contracts. The more administrative part with agents. We worked together between 2010 and 2015, and we trust each other a lot. He left for Arsenal with Ivan Gazidis as the guy in charge of their project as they restructured after Wenger’s exit. Three months later, Gazidis left for Milan and they needed someone in charge of the football side.
“We’ve known each other. We spoke, but he never made me an offer. It came out in London and it was obvious. ‘Raul Sanllehí who has worked with Andoni Zubizarreta and so if they need someone for the football side of things…’ I did get approached by a few clubs, I won’t say who, but because I don’t have an agent, I’m a bit of a rare case in the world of football”.
So, according to the man himself, there never was an offer from Arsenal for his services, and the club eventually appointed Edu Gaspar as their technical director.
It was a decision that raised a few eyebrows, and only time will tell if it was the right one, but at least Marseille know they will hold onto their director of football for the foreseeable future without the risk of the Gunners knocking on his door anytime soon.