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Report: Gazidis asserts power as as chief scout leaves

Arsenal Chief Scout Steve Rowley is reportedly leaving the club.

MLS: MLS Welcome Reception Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Arsenal’s long-serving chief scout, Steve Rowley, is set to depart the club.

Rowley has contacted scouting colleagues at other clubs to tell them that he's had enough. A club spokesman said on Wednesday night that his future still had to be finalised.

The Daily Mail asserts that Rowley feels that he has been made the scapegoat for the club’s failings in the transfer market, and has had enough.

Rowley has been with the club since 1996, and his departure creates a power vacuum within the club that Ivan Gazidis will step into. Gazidis has wanted to implement a more modern approach to transfers, including a director of football, but Arsene Wenger has put his foot down that he will not work with one.

With Wenger signing a new two year contract over the summer, it had appeared that he won the power struggle within the club. With the earlier departure of chief transfer negotiator Dick Law and now the pending departure of Rowley, perhaps Gazidis will have the final say.

Arsenal have been on the forefront of the analytics movement, as evidenced by the December 2012 purchase of StatsDNA, and Gazidis would like to see the analytics department have a larger role in driving Arsenal’s recruitment. Analytics are still in their relative infancy in soccer, but to ignore them entirely when building a team is to leave out a massive source of information that can’t help but help.

As with every debate like this, it’s not one or the other; the use of statistics and analysis should not preclude the use of the eye test and the gut feel, nor the other way around. Think of it this way. Pizza is good; beer is good. But you know what’s even better? Pizza AND beer. Arsenal could and should be combining cutting-edge analytics with good scouting/development, and if they do, good things will happen.