With the start of the new season just a few weeks away, Arsenal are still without an official club captain. We have taken a look at the pros and cons of some of the top candidates.
He’s vastly experienced and was expected to be given the armband but the German has been ruled out for five months following his knee injury. In order to avoid the same situation as Mikel Arteta, Arsenal should appoint a captain who will actually play every match. Mertesacker made just 24 Premier League appearances last season and at 31 years old, is coming towards the end of his career.
He’s the favourite to be named captain for next season and Laurent Koscielny is one of the most experienced players in this Arsenal team. The Frenchman joined the club way back in 2010 and has made nearly 250 appearances for The Gunners in all competitions. He began captaining the side in February 2016 following the injuries to Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker and wore the armband for a number of matches.
He certainly has the experience and Koscielny also possesses a drive and toughness which is so often visible in the very best captains, however there are some doubts about the Frenchman. He has been quite error prone in recent seasons and there are question marks over his leadership ability. In an interview with Arsenal.com last year, the Frenchman confessed that he isn’t exactly vocal on the pitch.
“There is no point to talk too much, anyway. It has to be at the right time, for the right thing and the right way too. Sometimes, also, you don’t need to talk. Just a look or a gesture is enough. I’m more like that.” (via Arsenal.com)
Communication is a vital part of captaincy and while he may play like a leader, Laurent Koscielny doesn’t seem to have the personality to match. And besides, the Frenchman is now 30 years old and realistically only has a few seasons left at this level.
He’s only been at the club for one season but Petr Cech is the most experienced player at the club. The 34 year-old has made almost 800 professional appearances and won everything from the Premier League to the Champions League. He was captain of the Czech Republic National Team for several years and even wore the armband for Chelsea on a number of occasions.
The problem is that Cech isn’t going to be around forever. At 34, the goalkeeper still has a few good years left in him but it’s optimistic to think he will remain at this level. Cech would be a good appointment despite his relatively short stint for Arsenal.
Another option would be to go for a younger player and Aaron Ramsey would fit the bill. He’s still just 25 years old but has made over 250 appearances for Arsenal and even served as captain of the Welsh National Team for a number of years. Few players work harder than Aaron Ramsey and the former Cardiff City player seems to thrive from additional responsibility.
The midfielder is the second most important player for his national team and that certainly seemed to spur Ramsey on in the European Championships, being named in the official Team of the Tournament.
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Ramsey could be a part of the Arsenal midfield for the next 6-8 years so putting him in place as captain would allow stability on the pitch. He plays far more matches than other players like Jack Wilshere and certainly possesses more leadership traits than other home-grown players like Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He’s gone through a lot at Arsenal which is why he’d be an excellent choice as Arsenal captain.
New signing Granit Xhaka has many of the pros and cons of other players on this list. He plays like a leader on the pitch, is young enough to be an Arsenal player for years, and seems to possess the drive and aggression to thrive from the responsibility. However Xhaka hasn’t played a first team match at Arsenal and his appointment would undermine other senior figures in the dressing room.
He is the biggest Arsenal supporter in the team and seems to crave responsibility at the club but is just too inexperienced to take on the role of captain now. Wilshere has played an average of 15 Premier League matches during the last five seasons which is nowhere near enough for a captain. Wilshere’s best route to the armband would be for a more experienced player like Petr Cech or Laurent Koscielny to become captain until the midfielder can hopefully put a stop to his injury problems and establish himself as an Arsenal regular. The appointment will come too soon for Wilshere.
Aaron Ramsey would be a shrewd, long-term appointment and seems like the best option. Handing the Welshman the armband would provide stability through the impending departure of Arsene Wenger in the next few years as well as giving the player some well-earned responsibility in this team. He’s suffered horrific injury, terrible loss of form, and been played out of position so being handed the armband would be a fresh start for Ramsey to flourish.