Tag Archives: Laurent Koscielny

A lot has happened in a week at The Arsenal

A lot has happened in the week I have been off.

Firstly we had Laurent Koscielny going William Gallas on us.

I always liked Koscielny. He seemed to hold himself well and was a good role model, a good captain. He seemed to understand what it means to play for The Arsenal. That is why it came as a shock when he refused to fly out to America on the pre-season tour.

With Arsenal chasing central defenders this summer, it was felt that it was important to keep hold of Koscielny for one more season.

With William Saliba set to sign and be loaned straight back to St Etienne, a second senior central defender would likely be purchased, with Shkodran Mustafi making way. Koscielny would then be kept as experience cover to the new signing, Sokratis and Rob Holding; with Saliba joining Arsenal in a year to replace his senior compatriot.

Koscielny’s actions were disappointing and will have ramifications to Arsenal’s transfer targets this summer.

It is likely that we will now lose the Frenchman and that will result in Mustafi remaining. That will mean less funds raised to buy a top central defender and could see us scrap those plans and going into the new season with Mustafi, Holding and Sokratis as our central defensive options.

Koscielny has tarnished his Arsenal legacy.

We then have the “will they won’t they” signings of Saliba and Kieran Tierney.

Both deals were reportedly very close not to long ago, but both have stalled.

Tottenham have reportedly come in for Saliba, despite a deal being agreed with Arsenal and “in the hands of the lawyers” according to David Ornstein. According to top soccer betting sites, Arsenal are still favourites for the deal

On Ornstein; he is not longer as reliable as he once was with his source within the club having left (reportedly Ivan himself). Recently he has taken to reporting what others like Sky’s Kaveh Solhekol has already broke. Take what he says these days with the same pinch of salt you would others.

Tierney deal is dragging along. Arsenal had a second bid rejected due to the structure of the deal.

Arsenal have a right to be cautious, with the Scotsman still recovering from a double hernia. £25million upfront would secure the man, but he would be unable to pass a medical. It would be a risk, which is why Arsenal are trying to do a deal where Celtic will get their £25million based on appearances.

I still think Arsenal will get the deal over the line.

You then had the fake bid for Nicolas Pepe.

Arsenal reportedly bid £72million for the Ivorian, an offer which was quickly debunked by many. Whilst I have no doubt Arsenal did not make an offer for the Lille winger, he should certainly be on our radar.

Younger and better than Wilfried Zaha, I would rather Arsenal spent £60million on Pepe than his national team mate.

Yesterday we had the launch of the #WeCareDoYou campaign by many prominent Arsenal groups.

The strongly written letter to Stan Kroenke got the attention it deserved and was picked up by every major media outlet.

With nearly 100,000 Arsenal fans backing the letter, it carries a clear and conscience undertone. We are not happy.

I have a few on Kroenke which anyone that follows me on Twitter will know. The letter is not asking him to pump billions in, nor is it spreading any fake news about him taking money out. It is calling on him to show that he cares, and lead Arsenal back on the right track.

Our identity as a club has ebbed away over the last few years. Some of it due to Kroenke’s leadership, other due to the previous custodians. Much to do with how Ivan Gazidis ran the club.

You can probably track Arsenal’s identity demise back to 2002 when Arsenal changed the badge of marketing and copywrite reasons. Since then the club has been a mess.

Now not everything that has gone wrong is Kroenke’s fault, but as sole owner of Arsenal he now has the final say in where the club is going. And the club needs to get back on course.

It will take a while, you do not turn a cruise liner on a six pence. But the letter is the start, and hopefully Kroenke (and perhaps more importantly Raul Sanllehi) does listen, does take things into account, and does show that he cares.

Finally Arsenal played last night, beating Colorado Rapids 3-0 with Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka getting on the score sheet.

I am not going to pretend to have watched the game, but there is a good write up on Jorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth Blog.

Arsenal’s 1st senior pre-season contained a youthful looking line up. Hopefully with another year in the Europa League we will see many of those players develop.

On Thursday Arsenal face Bayern Munich.



Laurent Koscielny to see out last year of Arsenal contract

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
Saliba: Loaned
Mavropanos: Loaned
Chambers: Sold
Mustafi: Sold

New CB, Holding, Saliba, Sokratis, Mavropanos
Koscielny: Released

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.


Why Arsenal signing William Saliba and sending him on loan makes PERFECT sense

Rumours circulated yesterday that Arsenal had agreed terms with 18-year-old French central defender William Saliba. All is to remain is to agree a fee with St Etienne.

Part of the expected deal is that Saliba remains at St Etienne on loan for next season. It is a term that makes complete sense.

Whilst most will question why we are buying a much needed central defender for £20million, only to loan him out, it makes a lot of sense once you work through everything logically.

Saliba will not be Arsenal’s only central defensive signing this summer.

With Shkodran Mustafi likely to be sold, it would leave Arsenal with just 3 senior centre backs. Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis and Rob Holding. Holding is injured and Koscielny is in nearly ready for the knackers’ yard.

It would be a very naive decision if Arsenal let Mustafi leave and do not buy a senior replacement. That senior replacement would not be Saliba.

So let’s imagine Arsenal sold Mustafi and signed a senior central defender – someone aged around 25-years-old and Saliba. It would leave us with:

New CB
Rob Holding
Laurent Koscielny
William Saliba
Calum Chambers
Kostadinos Mavropanos

With 7 central defenders, something would have to give.

For a start, I imagine Calum chambers would be sold. His fee would basically pay for Saliba; getting rid of any budget concerns. That would leave us with 6.

You do not need 6 central defenders in the squad. 5 maximum. That means you can afford to loan someone out. Remember Chambers spent last season out on loan.

So you buy a starting XI replacement for Mustafi. You then buy a replacement for Chambers; who spends a year on loan akin to Chambers spending. The status quo of squad numbers remains the same. 5 central defenders with 1 on loan:

New CB
Rob Holding
Laurent Koscielny
Kostadinos Mavropanos

Loaned: William Saliba
Sold: Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers

It is important that young players play. Over the years so many talented teenagers have failed to progress to senior professionals due to lack of game time.

Saliba is just 18-years-old and has just half a season of 1st team football under his belt. A full season on loan at St Etienne, playing week in week out will return a much better player.

In 2020 Arsenal would then be getting a 19-year-old defender with over 60 senior games to his name. He would then be much closer to challenging for the 1st team.

So let’s fast forward to 2020. Laurent Koscielny leaves. Saliba joins up with the first team:

New CB
Rob Holding
William Saliba
Kostadinos Mavropanos

Sokratis will then  be 32-years-old and have 1 year left on his contract. With the new central defender established having played a full year of Premier League football, it will then be a choice of who plays next to him. Either Sokratis, Holding or Saliba.

Saliba would still be just 19-years-old at this point, so we would not have to rush his development. He could comfortably spend a season as 3rd choice centre back for the 2020/21 season before kicking on to be 1st choice a season later.

Buying a senior centre back to replace Mustafi and then Saliba to replace Chambers and spend a year on loan makes perfect sense. It would show brilliant foresight and succession planning.

And once we shift Chambers, Saliba will have next to zero net impact on our transfer budget.