Arsenal have (reportedly at the time of writing) taken up the option of extending Nacho Monreal’s contract by a further year.
The Spanish international joined the club On 31 January 2013 for a fee believed to be around £8.5 million. In the 6 years he has been at the club, he has proved to be a very good signing, and has consistently been in the top 3 or 4 left backs in the league.
In recent years, he has also shown his worth on the left side of a back 3. Something which Unai emery might consider if he continues to play with 3 at the back.
Monreal turns 33 in February, so his career is coming to an end. However he has never been blessed with electric pace – relying on good positioning in defence and smart movement and solid crossing in attack. There is certainly still another 18 months in himat the top level.
But what does the contract extension mean for Sead Kolasinac?
The Bosnian clearly can not play in a back 4.
Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger before him have changed from a back 4 to a back 3 to accommodate Kolasinac. This is not a long term solution as defences rely on continuity. Both of personnel and system.
This summer Arsenal need to go out and buy another left back. A younger player who can be Monreal’s long term replacement. Ideally already good enough to play ahead of the Spaniard next season. Monreal then acts as back up / cover for his younger team mate.
This leave Kolasinac in a position where, at left back at least, he is surplus to requirements.
So what are Arsenal’s options?
We have spoken before about Arsenal selling poorly. Arsenal would easily command a fee in excess of £20 million if they sold Kolasinac. Many clubs both at home and abroad would pay that for him.
If he is not a long term solution, cash in over the summer and reinvest those funds. Monreal is then cover and competition for the new left back, then in 2020 we can explore signing someone to replace Monreal as that cover (or promote from within).
The likes of Ben Chilwell, Ferland Mendy or Kieran Tierney for under £30m. Cashing in on Kolasinac would fund almost all of the transfer fee of a new left back.
Moving him forward
Kolasinac is dangerous in the final third. He is able to muscle his way to the bye-line and get quality crosses in. He has been one of Arsenal most creative players this season.
There is an argument that you can buy a new left back, keep Monreal for a year, and keep Kolasinac as a winger.
Getting forward from the wing is different from left-back, however.
He often makes runs from deep, into space that has been created by his winger (usually Alex Iwobi) dropping inside. When he starts further up the pitch, he has less space to get up to speed in, and would have less space to operate as the opposing full-back would follow him instead the winger.
is left footed and would hug the touchline. He would not be ideal as a regular starter wide left, but he would give Arsenal an attacking option off the bench.
Another option would be if we are chasing the game, to take off the left-back and put Kolasinac on. Sacrificing for the defence for someone who can get forward more and provide quality.
Likewise when defending a lead, he could be bought on to provide further cover for the left back, whilst still offering a threat going forward.
You often saw Arsenal do this in the past when they had Emmanuel Eboue and Bacary Sagna.
Moving forward, Kolasinac would also then double up as the cover for the full back when Monreal leaves.
By renewing Monreal’s contract for a further year, it gives us plenty of options in the summer. Keep Kolasinac. Sell Kolasinac. Use him as a winger. Use Monreal on the left of a back 3.
What is for sure is that we need to buy a long term left back option.