I have to admit I was not the biggest fan of Laurent Koscielny when he first arrived. His first two-and-a-half seasons at Arsenal were filled with questionable positioning, conceded penalties, own goals and red cards. The fact that Johann Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen had looked even worse at times even failed to change my original impression of Koscielny.
However, his form since March 2013 has been nothing short of world-class. He has proven his worth ever since and I’d dare to say he has been our best player over the last two-and-a-half years. Whenever he was absent our defence looked too slow and not sharp enough to deal with top strikers.
It’s interesting to note that Koscielny seems to save his best form for Arsenal – his performances for the French national team have yet to impress even if he is surrounded by arguably better team-mates in the national team. Maybe it’s down to the fact that Mertesacker’s organizing skills can’t be found in the French team. The Germans ability to read the game complements Koscielny’s pace and sharpness which makes our defence bullet-proof most of the time.
These days, however, there are reports that Real Madrid have been interested in signing the French star (via ibtimes.com) as Sergio Ramos is close to the exit door and they might need a top replacement for the Spanish defender. There are not too many world-class defenders out there and Koscielny ticks all the boxes.
However, I think both Arsenal and Koscielny should respond to Real offer with a resolute “No thanks.” Here’s why:
1.Arsenal can’t find a replacement for Koscielny and Gabriel is not ready to fill his shoes yet.
If Real are in fact about to offer £21million (via ibtimes.com) it’s peanuts for a world-class central defender even if he is going to be 30 in September. We can’t replace him with someone worse and there are not many players that would be either as good as Kos or improve us. None of them are either available or for a reasonable transfer fee.
If Wenger is considering selling Koscielny and replacing him with Gabriel, he should think twice about it. Even though I like Gabriel very much, he is yet to acclimatize to English football. Koscielny’s departure would directly affect Mertesacker’s performances as well.
Also, Calum Chambers still needs to learn his trade and Kieran Gibbs’ pace is not enough to make him a Monreal-esque stand-in for Koscielny.
2.Manchester United have given us all a good example how difficult it is to replace experienced defenders.
The Red Devils lost three experienced defenders Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidić and Patrice Evra before the summer of 2014. Even if they were past their prime, their absence became clearly visible. If David De Gea hadn’t had the best season of his career, United would have missed out on a Champions League spot for the second time in a row.
Koscielny is both experienced and top quality. Even if we earn money on his sale, it would still be a bad piece of business as we might lose money on the pitch.
3.Koscielny should check the story of Walter Samuel.
Samuel (via Wikipedia.org) was one of the best defenders in the world for a decade. However, that doesn’t include his period at Real Madrid. He went through difficult spells at Roma and Inter which led to his departure. Samuel couldn’t find his feet mostly because Real at the time had a huge Claude-Makelele-shaped hole in the midfield since they had sold the French defensive midfielder to Chelsea. Real didn’t have too much patience with Samuel so they shipped him back to Italy where he was back to his old self at Inter Milan.
Now, despite having a free-scoring attacking line, Real Madrid failed to win anything in 2014-15. The main reason was their midfield that lacked a real defensive midfielder (sound familiar?) who would protect their back-four. Playing against Barcelona’s trident Messi-Suarez-Neymar would be a nightmare for Koscielny and whoever would partner him in central defence.
4.Nobody would guarantee Koscielny a place in the starting eleven.
Even if Sergio Ramos leaves Real Madrid, Real still have Pepe and Raphael Varane for their central defence and it would be a real challenge for our Frenchman to make a break-through into Rafa Benitez’ starting eleven.
5.Arsenal and Koscielny have unfinished business together.
Koscielny’s contribution to our back-to-back FA Cup victories was immense but it should satisfy neither him nor Arsenal. We should all aim for more – for either Premier League glory or the elusive Champions League trophy!
Koscielny has been at Arsenal since 2010 and has developed from a Ligue 1 novice to a world-class defender. Now when he is at the top of the game, he should give everything for our first league trophy since 2003-04.
6.Arsenal don’t need to sell Koscielny.
According to transfermarkt.co.uk, Koscielny has a contract until 2017 which means we have time on our side. If Real Madrid really want him, make them pay a premium price of £30-35million!
So, Kos, stay here and win the league with us!