Sead Kolasinac has become Arsenal’s first signing of the summer after being linked with the club for several months
The recently concluded campaign for Arsenal has been a tumultuous one. While they may have won a major trophy – something which Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City did not – the season cannot be termed a success for the North London giants.
Once a team that evoked fear in the minds of their opponents whenever they stepped the field to take them on, are now falling to shreds against the so-called lesser teams such as West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and Watford.
While every big side seldom falls prey to the underdogs, it had become more of a common occurrence for Arsene Wenger and his men. Thus, fans began to protest against the Frenchman, and asked for the Gunners board to part ways with him.
This wasn’t only due to the results, but also his stubbornness to not alter the way the team play regardless of the performances on the field. He took that into note, and started operating with a back three. It worked wonders as Arsenal won seven of their last eight games to end the season on a high.
With Wenger signing a new two-year deal, the protests have died down, and now the fans are once again backing the manager, hoping he makes some smart buys in the market, and brings the glory days back to the club.
The Frenchman, for a change, has acted quick in the market, and before the window even opening, has already made his first signing of what is likely to be a summer of change at the Emirates Stadium.
Bosnian left-back Sead Kolasinac saw out his contract at Bundesliga side Schalke to join Arsenal on a free on Tuesday. The defender had been linked with a switch to the Gunners for a few months, and the move finally materialised.
This signing brought joy to the faces of the Arsenal fans, not because they had acquired one of the best footballers in the world, but because their manager has started to, or at least shown signs of turning a new leaf.
Left-back has been a key weakness in the Arsenal side ever since the departure of Gael Clichy. Kieran Gibbs, an England international, has shown promise in that position, but it has only been in glimpses, and not enough to merit him a starting berth every week.
Wenger opted for the more experienced option in Nacho Monreal, who has been a regular this past season at the North London outfit. The Spaniard has been bang average in that position, and due to being on the wrong side of thirty, his contribution in the final third has been a bare minimal.
Due to which, Wenger and the Arsenal board have put in diligent work and time in order to convince Kolasinac to move to London. It may have been a difficult option as the 23-year-old is one of Europe’s promising defenders, and the Gunners do not have Champions League football to offer their players.
Yet, the Bosnian decided that Arsenal are the right club for him, and by the looks of it, he seems the right man for Arsenal as well. Likened to a “tree” by former Schalke boss Jens Keller, Kolasinac is one of the sturdiest left-backs in Europe one is likely to come across.
He is a hard working and no nonsense defenders, and puts in a tremendous shift regardless of the position he is told to play in. His versatility is one of the key aspects of his game, as he has been deployed in various positions throughout his brief career.
Predominantly a left-back, his lean and stouthearted build can see him operate as a centre-back. He is good with the ball at his feet, has an adept footballing brain, and his positioning sense is second to none.
Kolasinac has played as a wide midfielder in 19 games for Schalke this season, and has been key in preventing the opposition from counter attacking. He may not be the fastest of the ball, but his technical prowess often shadows that glaring weakness in his game.
However, his lack of pace may see him struggle as a wing-back – a system Wenger started to deploy towards the back end of the season. Kolasinac could play as a centre-back, but the Frenchman will be misusing the player’s abilities by not playing him in his preferred position.
Unlike Monreal, the Bosnian likes to maraud forward and overlap the wingers. He is a clinical crosser of the ball, and is not the worst of strikers of the ball from long range. He is, in fact an ideal fit in Wenger’s system at Arsenal.
While unveiling the player, the Frenchman spoke about how much of a threat Kolasinac can pose in the final third, and that the player will make Arsenal look dangerous in the final third, and that he is extremely versatile, to cap it all off.
For the last few years, Wenger’s team has lacked the grittiness and poise at the back, and Kolasinac may well provide that for him. Laurent Koscielny has offered them steel on the defensive third, but has made a number of questionable decisions that has often let his team down.
Kolasinac, on the other hand, is pretty mature for a 23-year-old and has the making to go on and do wonders at the Emirates Stadium. His arrival could also see Wenger abolished the pleasing to the eye football, and transform his side into a more physical and aggressive unit.