Arsenal have had another distressing summer. Never mind the lack of notable signings, the insufficient funds, the loss of numerous veterans on free transfers, or even the link to a man who never made it at a top side, Arsenal are now embroiled in yet another embarrassing situation with club captain, Laurent Koscielny. The current French veteran has refused to join the rest of the squad on the Gunners’ pre-season tour of the United States amid transfer interest in his home country. This news is merely the latest development that has left Arsenal supporters devoid of optimism heading into a season filled with unknowns.
Laurent Koscielny joined Arsenal from French side Lorient back in 2010. Ever since, he has cemented his place as a key player who gave it all for the badge. He has made 255 appearances for the club and has been apart of 90 clean sheets. He was also an important component to Arsenal’s FA Cup success in recent years.
Needless to say, he is no longer the player that he once was. The now 33 year old defender is well past his prime, but his intelligence, positioning, and decision-making were among his best attributes leading into last season. Yet, years of hard work and ingratiating himself among the Arsenal supporters have gone out the window with one decision.
In all likelihood, Koscielny has played his last match in an Arsenal kit. Arsenal released a brief public statement on their website in response to Koscielny’s decision.
“Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the U.S. for our pre-season tour.
We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions.
We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”
According to the Guardian, Arsenal are now in the process of disciplinary proceedings against Koscielny. Laurent was Arsenal’s club captain. The manager put his trust in him because Emery believed Koscielny to be of the nature that would make his leadership an invaluable asset to the club, but here we are with no end in sight. Regardless of any personal agreement he may have had with the club about allowing him to leave for free this summer, which would be a ridiculous prospect for Arsenal, he is still under contract until he is either transferred, his contract is terminated, or his contract expires in 2020.
It would be wishful thinking to say that the Koscielny development was the only source of consternation this summer. Yet, as stated earlier, there are many other issues that have forced Arsenal into some precarious set of circumstances. The club is simply devoid of defenders with Premier League quality or experience, which is one reason management wishes to hold onto Koscielny. The thought was that Mustafi would be sold to make way for a more capable defender. Monreal was linked with a move away as he experienced a decline in consistent performances over the course of the 2018/19 season.
Arsenal are rumored to be close to a deal for Saint-Etienne center-back, William Saliba, but such a move would have the young 18-year-old move back to Saint-Etienne on loan for the 2019/20 campaign. It would be a shrewd bit of business considering Saliba’s potential and his relative youth, and another season of first team soccer would be only beneficial without having the spotlight on him at a major English club.
The Gunners have recently brought in Invincible legend Edu Gaspar as technical director of the club, who could help hasten the transition under Unai Emery. Unfortunately, the club are clearly lacking in both funds and squad depth, which are two things that should never apply at the same time. Even if the reported $56 million transfer budget is an understatement, there is no denying that money is an issue.
The Zaha transfer links have turned into a farce as even a reported offer of $50 million plus Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny, and Carl Jenkinson is too much for a player that should be in his prime but has 10 goals and 5 assists to his name in 34 matches last season. Crystal Palace value Wilfred Zaha at over $100 million, which is not too far off of Eden Hazard’s fee for Real Madrid. It looks to be a drawn out process for a player in a position that Arsenal could turn towards youth, such as Reiss Nelson and spend that money on a seasoned defender.
There is no way to sugar coat the embarrassment that surrounds Arsenal. One could not even put this down to owner, Stan Kroenke. If Arsenal were more prudent and aggressive in refusing to let player’s contract wind down, they could have had a considerable transfer purse. Ramsey would have garnered at least $40 million. With only 28 days remaining in the transfer window, Arsenal will need to get into high gear if they want to improve the roster as the only current transfer has been the young promising Brazilian winger, Gabriel Martinelli. At this point, however, it does not look likely.