‘Good scout and good manager’
Not Englishman Julian Ward, but 50-year-old German Sven Mislintat is Ajax’s new technical director. This raised some eyebrows. For who is this man known for his eye for talent, but also failed as head scout at Arsenal and left after disagreements at Borussia Dortmund?
“He always remains calm, is very open and honest and not at all arrogant,” says Jörg Weiler, Bild journalist about Mislintat’s character. “As a person, he is a real family man. His great love is windsurfing. So in that respect the Netherlands is a good destination.”
Weiler has long followed Ajax’s new technical man. He spoke Diamondauge, as his nickname goes because of his good eye for talent, during his time at Dortmund and recently when he worked at Stuttgart. According to him, Mislintat is very approachable. “He is very open to the media, says what’s on his mind,” he said.
‘Going to be a good fit’
Weiler speaks highly of Mislintat and thinks Ajax made a good move. “He is a good scout as well as a good manager. Like at Dortmund, he will get players who will be worth a lot. That is going to be a good fit.”
Yet people in Germany were also somewhat surprised that the scout of players like Shinji Kagawa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ousmane Dembélé, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski will now be ultimately responsible in Amsterdam. Also because he was out of work after leaving as technical director at low-flying Stuttgart in November 2022.
Mislintat’s honesty and sincerity have gotten in his way on several occasions. At Dortmund, he clashed with then coach Thomas Tuchel in January 2016 over not attracting Spanish footballer Oliver Torres.
The coach pulled the plug on the deal at the last minute. “Tuchel did that half an hour before that player was to get off the plane. Mislintat didn’t think you could make that and let it be known,” Weiler said about it.
Tuchel then forbade the scout from coming onto the training field anymore, traveling with the team and having contact with the players. Nevertheless, he stuck around at the club for almost two more years.
‘Good start crucial’
At the end of 2017, he left for Arsenal as head scout. There he was not particularly successful. The transfer balance stood at more than 100 million euros in losses after a year and the sporting performance was disappointing. He left after more than a year because of a difference of opinion with the new coach.
That’s typical of Mislintat, says Weiler. “If he does not have the confidence or does not agree with someone, he indicates it. Even if the other person doesn’t like it.” That this sometimes means the end of his employment, he takes for granted. “If it doesn’t work out, he leaves.”
Even at Stuttgart he did not agree with the choices made, he therefore decided not to renew his contract. Therefore, his contract, which ran until the summer of this year, was terminated in November. Then Stuttgart was in 16th place, now the team is in last place.
According to Weiler, a good start at Ajax is crucial. Then you avoid focusing on other issues, such as his lack of experience as a top player.
Mislintat still made it to the third German level at SV Holzwickede, but that is quite different from the international career of his predecessor Marc Overmars. Also at Stuttgart, the lack of success as a footballer brought him mostly trouble.
“If the emphasis is always placed on his mediocre soccer career, that’s going to get in the way,” said Weiler.
Another thing that sometimes gets in his way is his appearance. He is still sometimes disparagingly dismissed as a “hippie” or “surfboy. But he won’t trade his long mane and sweater, Weiler thinks. “He’s not going to suddenly get a haircut or wear a tuxedo for Ajax. His long hair is only a problem when people make it a problem.”
Bond with Bosz
So a good start could help Mislintat. One of his main tasks is to put together a technical staff for next season. The name Peter Bosz has been buzzing around Amsterdam for some time. And let that be a man with whom Mislintat has a good relationship. Bosz confirmed Sunday at Studio Football That he was previously approached by Mislintat for a position at Stuttgart.
The pair worked together at Borussia Dortmund shortly before Mislintat left for Arsenal. Bosz said plainly that he has not been called yet. “But if Ajax calls, I would start talking,” he said. That call might just come from the surfboy with Diamondauge.