Venkatesham has been tasked with leading Arsenal on his own after the departure of head of football Raul Sanllehi yesterday, bringing to an end the joint-management of the club that they had shared since September 2018.
The 39-year-old Venkatesham has been at Arsenal for a decade, working his way through the club’s commercial departments to his current role. Club sources insisted that in light of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating impact on finances meant that owner Stan Kroenke felt the time was right for a sole figurehead to be in place at the Emirates Stadium.
Venkatesham’s influence on footballing matters will inevitably increase in the new structure but he views it as more of an oversight role with responsibility for Arsenal’s footballing destiny lying with Arteta and Edu.
“I think we can look forward with some real optimism,” he said. “I think, in Mikel Arteta, we have an absolutely fantastic, dynamic head coach. He forms a formidable team with Edu Gaspar, who is our technical director. And if we look at our academy, I think we’re in really, really strong hands with Per Mertesacker and we have some of the most exciting young talent in the league.
“Now we did of course not achieve our expectations last season and we need to do better and we need to improve. But I think we’re absolutely on a positive trajectory and we’re on the right path.
“The message really is: we need to improve. We’re really focused on where we need to improve and there’s lots of things that we need to do.”
He added: “We have, in Edu and Mikel, two individuals who are responsible for our technical plan.
“Of course, [that is] overseen by me and the board, but those two are the experts and they have a very, very clear plan about how they want to rebalance our squad in the short term, in the medium term and in the long term. We’re starting to work on that immediately in this transfer window.”
Arsenal’s transfer business began on Friday with the signing of free agent Willian to a three year contract and is expected to continue with reinforcement of Arteta’s defence and midfield.
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Venkatesham noted that doing so in the current market will be “challenging” with the Gunners under pressure to sell shrewdly if they are to reinforce their squad.
“We’ve been active in the market and we saw recently that we brought in Willian from Chelsea, a signing that Edu and Mikel are really, really excited about and I’m sure our fans are excited about as well,” Venkatesham said. “And we’ll continue to work hard this transfer window.
“I think it’s going to be a challenging transfer window post-coronavirus, it’s going to be unusual and it’s going to be challenging, but we’ll continue to work hard to deliver on our objectives to strengthen the squad and Edu and Mikel have a really clear plan around how they’d like to do that.
“Our objectives are to be back competing for and winning the biggest trophies in the game and if you’re Arsenal Football Club and if you’re in the Premier League, there’s two trophies that really matter and that’s the Premier League trophy and the Champions League trophy.
“That has to be the objectives of a football club like Arsenal. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be straightforward, there’s a whole load of competition but that has to be the objective for this football club.”
Venkatesham also acknowledged that the club needed to “do a better job of communicating with our fans”, many of whom had grown disillusioned with the approach of owner Kroenke and Sanllehi, questioning what the plan to take Arsenal forward was.