Granit Xhaka’s revival under Mikel Arteta brings the real cost of...

“Always on the move” was the slogan with which Arsenal celebrated its 14th FA Cup record win in August. Francis Cagigao shares this feeling when he thinks about spending almost half of his life in what he describes as a “fantastic institution”.

For Cagigao, the dust has settled on his tenure, which spanned two decades, countless player referrals and even more airline miles earned in South America. The Spaniard still refers to the Gunners as “we” and admits that he stayed with the Gunners for so long because he felt “respected and valued” – principles long associated with Arsenal, more evident in the years in which Arsene Wenger was with the helmet.

“I was at the club for 24 years and there were a number of opportunities to go elsewhere,” said Cagigao Football.London.

“Clubs in Spain, England and other countries – but in truth it was more about being respected and valued. It wasn’t just about money.



(Image: Francis Cagigao)

“I had a good relationship with the manager at the club [Arsene Wenger] and [former] Chief Scout Steve Rowley who was absolutely brilliant for the club for many years. At the time I didn’t see myself anywhere else. ”

Cagigao is a former youth player from Barcelona and Arsenal whose career was cut short due to an injury. He is highly regarded throughout the game and is widely regarded as a connoisseur of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez before moving to north London. The list of players Cagigao has identified over the years is endless and he revealed in a recent interview that Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were among the players on his radar for the early years of the game.

Speaking openly about his time at Arsenal, he insists that former head coach Unai Emery was “unlucky” to lose his job after leading the club to a European final and narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Champions League.

“The club after Arsene went through a transition phase and I think all transition periods are difficult.

You can check out other clubs to see that these transition times are never easy. We switched from a traditional manager to a head coach. I have a feeling in this transition that Unai was unlucky.



“I think Unai is a very good coach. We reached the Europa League final and finished one point before the Champions League qualification in the league. It’s a very fine margin that sometimes separates perceived success from success.

“I think the club went through this transition period and hopefully the club saw the reverse of that.”

Arsenal cut its entire global scouting network over the summer while also announcing 55 layoffs within the club. Led by Technical Director Edu, the new strategy will focus on a more agent-led approach, with the Brazilian admitting that he “wants to work with fewer people and StatDNA a lot more”.

StatDNA is the data and analytics company that bought Arsenal in 2014, and while Cagigao admits the development of the player identification tools was useful, he believes the need to find players in the flesh is still necessary.

“Tools like Wyscout and others who like it are hugely important. They have to evolve over time and not stand still, both with modern technology and with data that we are used to today. Data is an integral part of modern society – it’s not just football and it’s not just scouting.

“Data analyzes help to make a final decision as humanly and objectively as possible. The perfect combination consists of live and video scouting via the skilled, trained eye with a track record and people with knowledge of game and player identification and development, as well as data analysis and modern technology.

“As soon as we get back to normal, we have to put ourselves back in the situation we were confronted with before. In my case, I firmly believe that live scouting is an absolute necessity as part of an elite football club’s recruitment process.

“Of course I can’t imagine a player who was committed during my time at the club and who we didn’t find out via live scouting, but that doesn’t mean that all the other processes and tools are not necessary because they are nowadays.”

Psychology is an integral part of Player ID. The mental aspect of the game can become the difference between winning and losing, with club psychologists being the norm today. When asked if there is a player on Cagigao’s recommendation list who, in his opinion, has been treated unfairly over the years, he does not hesitate to answer.

“The scouting, player identification and recruitment departments are there to strongly recommend or not recommend players.

“One player that we strongly endorsed and signed that I think was treated a little unfairly was probably Granit Xhaka.

“I certainly disagreed with many of the press reviews of his performance in many games. I think he was treated a little unfairly.

“Yes, he made that mistake [angry reaction to the fans] but who doesn’t make mistakes? I think he came back fantastically well and his work ethic and commitment to the club can never be questioned.



Granite Xhaka during the arsenal. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Granite Xhaka during the arsenal. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“Those [mental qualities] were attributes that we saw in him in Mönchengladbach. We spent a lot of time analyzing his performances there and it was very obvious that the mental strength was very evident on him. He was the captain of this team at the age of 22. So you’re talking about a player with mental strength who had to overcome some negativity to get back to his best level. ”

Another player who was on Cagigao’s radar a few years ago was Thomas Partey. Atletico Madrid’s £ 45million deal day was spotted by Gunner’s scouts while playing for Almeria in 2014. Cagigao believes his arrival at Arsenal will allow the Ghanaian midfielder to express himself in ways he couldn’t under Diego Simeone.

“It’s in the public domain [Partey] is a player we have looked at for a very long time and who we have strongly recommended in the past and in the recent past.

“He will bring qualities to the side that may be lacking in this position. He will certainly bring more cover and protection in areas where the team may need it.



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“I would also say that he’s a player who may have a lot more to offer than what we’ve already seen of him.

“He had a somewhat limited role at his previous club, playing with the handbrake on at times – to use one of Arsene’s expressions – and I think he will be a very, very good addition to what is already an immensely strong roster . ”

What does the future hold for Cagigao? The 51-year-old has received a number of offers from clubs around the world and is also qualified to become a technical director. He admits he’ll be thinking about his next move, but there is no doubt that his vast experience in player identification makes him one of the most sought after football figures right now.

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