Tag Archives: Laurent Koscielny

Laurent Koscielny, Miguel Almiron & the UEFA Nations League

Laurent Koscielny

Yesterday Laurent Koscielny announced that he was retiring from international football. It did not exactly come as a surprise.

The 33-year missed out on a World Cup winners medal this summer and admitted that it was hard to see his team-mates lift the trophy in Moscow.

It seems Koscielny’s decision was driven by a lack of communication from French manager Didier Deschamps.

The Frenchman picked up an Achilles injury back in May, hobbling off after 12 minutes in the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.

Koscielny claims that since his injury, Deschamps has contact him just one – wishing him happy birthday.

He made 51 appearances for France, making his debut in November 2011, and took part in the European Championships in 2012 and 2016, as well as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“The injury is one thing, the victory of the World Cup is another,” Koscielny said. “I think the victory certainly made me much more psychologically hurt than my injury.

“I think I gave the France team what I could. For me, my injury has not changed anything. The Blues are over, after that, I will always be a supporter of the French team but what is certain is that I will not put on the blue jersey.

“I have a new state of mind, there will be the Laurent before and the Laurent after injury. I want to continue to Arsenal, I want to return quickly. I want to fight.”

At his age and with his injury record, you have to wonder how long there is left in the career of Koscielny.

With his Arsenal contract set to expire in 18 months, his career in London is also coming to an end. It would not be a surprise if this summer he returns to France to see out the rest of his career.

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 28: Laurent Koscielny of France applauds the fans after the International Friendly match between France and Spain at Stade de France on March 28, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Miguel Almiron

We are pretty much equidistance between the closure of the summer transfer window and the opening of the January window.

It is no surprise therefore that we have seen an increase in transfer speculation as  outlets look to increase their advertising revenue.

One name that seems to be at the top of Arsenal related news is Miguel Almiron.

The 24-year old Paraguayan has been linked heavily to Arsenal recently with increasing intensity. My take on it is that his agents are using Arsenal to get his name in the papers, to make it clear his client is available for a potential move to Europe.

He has had a good season in the MLS, with 12 goals and 14 assists. However the step up from America to the Premier League is a huge one.

Whilst the scouting reports that I have read highlight him as a good player:

“Almiron is the epitome of a 21st-century playmaker: strong in the pass, equipped with outstanding vision and technical ability, but also with the physical attributes to match.”

The consensus seems to be that Almiron is both a technical brilliant, two-footed play maker, but also has the industry and work rate to press the opposition high up the pitch.

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave the club at the end of the season, Almiron could provide a decent, low-cost understudy for Mesut Ozil / Aaron Ramsey replacement. Although I am unsure if he is that much of a step up from Alex Iwobi.

There is talk that Atlanta are holding out for double the £12.6million that Arsenal were rumoured to have “agreed”. At this point he no longer becomes the cheap understudy.

Almiron’s statistics this season are not too dissimilar to former Arsenal star Carlos Vela.

In a league where Bradley Wright-Phillips finished 3rd top scorer, you have to question the quality of the league.

Ultimately, the deal could come down to whether Sven Mislintat believes that the MLS and Premier League are too far apart in terms of quality. And whether they see the point in investing for cover for Ozil when you already have Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Keep an eye on this one.

UEFA Nations League

What a load of rubbish. Glorified friendly’s. Scrap it now.

Keenos

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Laurent Koscielny injury GREAT news for Arsenal

You have to wonder if Koscielny will be seen again in an Arsenal shirt.

That was my thought process in an article I wrote after the Europa League defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Laurent Koscielny’s troublesome Achilles once more reared its ugly head. Crumpled on the pitch in extreme pain, he was forced off after just 12 minutes. Immediate diagnosis was that he would be out of the World Cup.

Soon to be 33, I felt at the time it could keep him out longer, and so yesterday’s prognosis that he is set to be out for 6 months is not surprise.

“You will not see him until December at best,” said Wenger.

It pretty much rules the Frenchman out until 2019. At that is best case scenario. As we have seen with Santi Cazorla, any sort of surgery on your Achilles can lead to further complications. Even if he returns in December, he will only have 18 months left on his contract.

By the time that contract expires, he will be 35. This is almost certainly his last contract with Arsenal.

He has already spoken about wanting to see out his career at Lorient, and even before the injury, I felt that his Arsenal career was coming to an end. That he perhaps only had 1 more year left in him at the top level.

Whilst I do feel for Koscielny, this long term injury could actually be good news for 2 reasons for Arsenal.

The first (and lesser) reason surrounds the captaincy of the club.

For too long, the captain of Arsenal has been messed around with. Since Patrick Vieira left us back in 2005, the only consistent player we had as a captain was Cesc Fabregas – who led us for 3 years.

Robin van Persie was given it to try and encourage him to sign a new contract, whilst in recent years with the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta and most recently Per Mertesacker barely captained the team on the pitch.

The concern going into next season was that Laurent Koscielny was going to be the natural successor to Per Mertesacker, as the current vice-captain and senior professional in the team.

That concerned me as I felt he only had 1 good year left in him, and even next year he might not be guaranteed to start week in week out (if we sign a top centre back). That would leave us in the exact same position that we have been in recently. A captain who does not always play.

With captaincy off the table for Laurent Koscielny, it naturally gives the club a chance to look a bit longer term. Give it to someone who will be captain for the next 5 years, not just the next 12 months. If Aaron Ramsey signs his new deal, he is the man for the job.

The second reason is that Koscielny’s injury will force the clubs hand in the transfer market.

We needed a centre back last season. Instead of signing the player we needed, we stuck with Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, with Per Metesacker and the youngsters Rob Holding and Calum Chambers backing him up.

After Konstantinos Mavropanos performances in the later end of the season, it would have been an easy option for the club to say “lets stick with Mustafi and Koscielny, with Holding, Chambers and Mavropanos backing them up”. This would have been a disaster.

Koscielny is clearly on the wain. He has always been error prone, but more mistakes seem to have crept into his game in the last 18 months. As for Mustafi, there are question marks over whether he will ever be good enough.

Had we gone into next season with Mustafi and Koscielny as our centre back partnership, it would have led to another season of disappointment. Now the club has no choice but to go into the market and sign a senior centre back to partner Mustafi.

Whilst the injury is bad news for Koscielny personally, it is great news for Arsenal as we can moved forward into the new era post-Wenger with a new captain and new centre back partnership.

Keenos

Where do Arsenal need to strengthen in January?

We have to be realistic when it comes to the January transfer window.

History shows that not much business is done in January. That sides will not go out and buy 5 it 6 players. Arsenal have notoriously done little business in January, and I do not expect that to change.

I would be surprised if Arsene Wenger signed kore than a single player.

So what should we buy in January?

Central Defender

After 3 clean sheets in a row in the Premier League, Arsenal conceded 3 against Manchester United.

This follows conceding 3 against Manchester City and 4 against Liverpool.

Whilst we got clean sheets against Chelsea and Tottenham, we have conceded 19 goals in the league this season. That is 10 more than Manchester United and Manchester City. It is more goals conceded than bottom of the table Swansea.

We have conceded 25 goals in 23 games in all competitions. A statistic which is simply not good enough.

With Shrokdan Mustafi limping off against Manchester United, he looks set for a spell on the sidelines for the second time this season.

More worrying is Laurent Koscielny.

The senior centre back made key errors against Manchester United and looked off the pace.

At 32, he has been managing a long term Achilles problem, and playing 3 times in a week looked to be a step too far for him. Maybe he is on the wain?

A commanding centre back will take the pressure of Koscielny to play every game, and improve a problematic area of the pitch.

Defensive Midfielder

How long have we needed a commanding defensive midfielder for?

We have not had a world class player in this position since Gilberto Silva left in 2008. And not had a specialist in that position since the first incarnation of Matthieu Flamini at Arsenal.

2 seasons ago we had the straight choice between Granit Xhaka and N’Golo Kante. At the time we picked Xhaka due to his superior passing. It looks like a massive mistake.

Back then, I thought Xhaka was an inspired signing. He had the grit and aggression, but could also play a bit.

In hindsight – and Football is very easy in hindsight – we went for the wrong man.

Xhaka has not settled in the Premier League, and looks slow and ponderous on the ball. Signed for his Ball playing ability, he gives it away too much and has been at fault for many goals due to his poor passing.

He is clearly not suited to the deep lying position in the Premier League and is struggling with the pace.

I imagine in Spain or Italy, where you get more time on the ball, he would shine. He should also potentially play higher up the field, like he did for Borussia Monchengladbach and for Switzerland.

Out poor defensive performance this season is not just down to the defence, but also down to the midfield.

Xhaka does not give the defence enough cover, and his sloppy play has led to many goals conceded. He is not the solution to our defensive midfield problem.

Sanchez / Ozil Replacement

Both will leave us this summer.

Sanchez has been awful recently.

Getting one replacement in January reduces the pressure in the summer and means one player has been at the club, in English Football, for 6 months.

Not much else to say on this one as we all know both need replacing.

So which position do you think we need to strengthen in January?

Keenos