This summer there has been talk of Laurent Koscielny leaving Arsenal. It will not happen.
The Frenchman turns 34 in September and his best days are behind him, but he will see out the last year of his contract at Arsenal.
Next season will be Koscielny’s 10th and last at the club he has served with so much class. The captain will spend his last year with Arsenal as a senior back-up option, more influential on the training ground than on the pitch.
Koscielny put in some brave performances towards the end of last season, making up for his diminishing physical attributes by becoming a dogger, old fashioned defender. He put his body on the line to win every ball.
Had Arsenal wanted to get rid of him this summer, they would have at least giving him a goodbye on the last day of the season alongside Aaron Ramsey. There were no words said, no tears, no longing wave. That will come in 2020.
When you look at the make-up of the squad in 2019/20, you can see why Koscielny still has a part to play.
Sokratis is the senior defender. Every other player will be competing to partner the Greek international.
Currently we have Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Kostadinos Mavropanos as the defensive options alongside Sokratis.
Holding was fabulous last season, but there is no guarantee he will be ready for the start of the forthcoming season, whilst Mavropanos could really do with getting himself out on loan for a year.
That leave Koscielny, Mustafi and Chambers.
Arsenal have been heavily linked with William Saliba. A deal for the French teenager is reportedly close. Part of the deal means that he will remain on loan at St Etienne next season. Not a bad thing as it will see him play a full campaign before joining the Arsenal squad in 2020.
To finance the deal, Calum Chambers will be moved on. Arsenal would command similar in transfer fee as for Chambers as they would splash out on Saliba.
Taking into account Chambers spent last year on loan to Fulham, sending Saliba out on loan would maintain the numbers in defence from last season.
So then we have Mustafi and Koscielny.
Mustafi would still command a fee in excess of £20million were he to be sold. He has shown during his time at Arsenal that he is not good enough to be 1st choice alongside Sokratis in the short term, and be the leader of the defence in the long term.
Arsenal should cash in on Mustafi. They should then target a defender who is under 25 and who they believe could be 1st choice tomorrow, and for years to come.
With Sokratis also the wrong side of 30, Arsenal need to blood in the next senior, 1st choice defender next season.
So selling Mustafi and Chambers, signing Saliba and a 1st choice defender means that Koscielny stays for a season.
Then in 2020, Saliba (assuming we clinch the deal) returns and becomes Koscielny’s replacement.
Sokratis, New CB, Holding, Koscielny
New CB, Holding, Saliba, Sokratis, Mavropanos
You then add the likes of Zach Medley and Dan Ballard as replacements for Sokratis in 2021 (and for Mavropanos if he does not kick on).
By keeping Koscielny for 1 more season allows for Arsenal to replace both Chambers and Mustafi this summer. With the succession planning above, it would mean that if we make the right to signings, we would not have to sign another central defender until 2022 at the earliest.
Koscielny deserves his goodbye.