So the deal for Bosnian left back Sead Kolasinac is complete. We are just waiting for it to be nnounced on arsenal.com. Our first signing of the season. Great news.
Kolasinac is a player who many know little about. Unless you watch regular Bundesliga football, you would never have seen him play. I will be honest, I have not seen him. Not one bit. No clips, no highlights, no YouTube. I have never used in on FIFA or signed him on Football Manager.
The majority of stuff you would have read on him so far is by people with a similar experience of him as me. They know nothing. They look at Wikipedia and write an article round that for hits. To try and show that they know about him. When in reality they know almost nothing. So lets try and build a profile as to where he fits in based on what we can research:
Kolasinac is German born but opted to play for Bosnia. It feels like Arsene Wenger’s choice of player at the moment is Central Europeans with Eastern European heritage.
Last seasons two major signings – Granit Xhaka & Shkodran Mustafi – both had Albanian heritage. Add in Mesut Ozil, German born to Turkish immigrants, there is something Wenger clearly likes of these players. It reminds me of the late 90s when Frenchmen with African or Caribbean roots were all the rage.
Having players of a similar background to Kolasinac will help him settle quick. There are players that share is natural tongue, share his religion and share his heritage already at the club. He certainly won’t struggle to fit into the squad. So where does he fit into the team?
Kolasinac has apparently impressed at left back this season for Schalke. We only really know this because he has been shortlisted for the Bundlesiga Team. For all we know, every other left back in Germany could be useless.
If Arsenal return to four at the back next season, he will surely be a shoe-in for left back. Or at the least be competing with Nacho Monreal. His signing would probably mean the end of Kieran Gibbs if we stick to 4 at the back.
If we were to move to 3 at the back, Kolasinac could give us a few options.
The first is he plays left wing back. Having not seen him play, I would have to question the following:
- Is he attacking – There is no point playing a wing back who’s natural inclination is defence over attack. We need them to provide width.
- Can he cross – The wing backs are the main source of balls into the box, as we have seen recently with both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin. If he crosses like Gael Clichy, he is pointless.
- Can he get up and down – At wing back you need to have stamina. You are expected to be the winger and the full back at the same time. Providing the width, as well as providing defensive cover. Does he have the stamina to go for 90 minutes, and the pace to get back when caught up the field?
I am sure there are some out there who know (and many others who will pretend to know) whether he has the attributes to play wing back.
If he plays wing back, we could see the continuation of Nacho Monreal on the left sided of the back 3. He has played well there recently and could give Kolasinac the natural cover when he bombs forward.
The alternative is to move Kolasinac inside and play him as part of the back 3. At 6ft (thanks Wikipedia) he does have the height to play there, but again, having not seen him play, Iwould also like to raise the following:
- Is he defensive – Playing centre back, you need to have good positions. You can make up for a lot of physical attributes if you actually know the role. He will be a liability if constantly out of position.
- Is he good in the air – If he cant jump, or head the ball, he will be exposed at the back post time and again.
- Is he physical enough – Strikers bully defenders in the Premier League. Rob Holding has shown recently that to excel, you have to ensure you are not bullied.
Personally, having never seen Kolasinac play, I like the idea of him moving into centre back. He looks a physical specimen (in his Wikipedia picture) and being naturally left footed, would bring some balance to the back 3.
The wide centre backs do need to be comfortable on the ball, comfortable at full back when they are pulled across in defence, and be happy getting forward in support of the full back on their side.
On the right hand side, Mustafi fulfils a lot of these requirements. A strong centre back who has played right back. The balance is there. At the moment whilst Nacho Monreal has played well, he does look like a bit of a round peg in a squad hole. Kolasinac could bring the balance to the left hand side with Koscielny marshalling the troops in the middle.
If we stick to a back 3, I would imagine it would be either Monreal or Kolasinac at centre back, with the other at full back. Luckily with no international tournament this summer, we have the time to work on different systems, and different players within those systems, so that we can start the season with the best players in the best positions.
I am just glad we have got a deal done early and strengthened the left hand side of our defence (whether it be at full back or centre back).