The age of post-Arsene Wenger looked so clear, so structured, so very un-Arsenal.
After 21 years of one man steering the ship – to mixed reviews – it looked as though the Gunners had finally put in place a modern management structure similar to those used by elite clubs throughout Europe.
New coach Unai Emery would run the team, new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat – nicknamed “diamond eye” for his record of unearthing gems - would identify talent, and new head of football relations Raul Sanllehi would close the deals.
It would all be overseen by chief executive Ivan Gazidis – the link to Arsenal’s American owner Stan Kroenke – who brought all three men to the club.
And Arsenal 2.0 seemed to be going off without a hitch.
New signings Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi looked to be shrewd signings in a hyper-inflated market, there were no stories of near-misses or botched negotiations with transfer targets – a situation so familiar to Arsenal fans during Wenger’s reign, and the team strung together a 22-match unbeaten run lasting from August to mid-December.
All this despite Gazidis surprisingly deserting the club for Italian giants AC Milan shortly after the season began.
But fast-forward to now, and it appears Arsenal 2.0 is already at risk of coming off the rails.
The highly-rated Mislintat reportedly appears to be headed for the exit just over a year after joining, with rumours swirling that he’s been put out by being overlooked for the role of technical director, as well as having his transfer target suggestions reportedly slapped down by Sanllehi – a man who started as his relative equal but was elevated to ‘head of football’ in the wake of Gazidis’ departure.
Arsenal did not immediately respond to CNN Sport’s request for comment as to his future at the club.
It’s reported Sanllehi prefers drawing on his extensive list of contacts from his time at Barcelona and Nike for recruitment, rather than Mislintat’s stats-based analytical approach.
Head coach Emery also admitted that the Gunners have no funds for permanent transfers during the current window – hardly an appealing prospect for recruitment chief Mislintat.
But it’s not just the potential departure of the German which is rocking Arsenal’s new project.
The news coincides with a dip in form, with the club claiming just one draw in their last four away games – including a 5-1 mauling at Liverpool and Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at London rivals West Ham United.
Emery’s lack of tactical consistency, combined with a failure to address glaring deficiencies in defence being the main source of frustration for fans.
Star player Mesut Ozil – reported to be on a contract worth £350,000-a-week – also looks destined for the exit door after sketchy form and a series of injuries have seemingly failed to convince the new boss of his worth.
Another previous jewel in Arsenal’s crown, Aaron Ramsey, is also being allowed to leave for free at the end of his season after the offer of a new contract was withdrawn by Emery, Sanllehi and Mislintat in the wake of Gazidis’ departure.
The thinking being that the trio didn’t rate the Welsh international as highly as Gazidis and ex-boss Wenger, and weren’t prepared to pay him the Ozil-bracket salary his agent was reportedly demanding.
All this combines to leave Arsenal staring into a very uncertain future, where the direction on and off the pitch seems to be becoming increasingly unclear.
If only there was an experienced Frenchman capable of steadying the ship …