Who should be Arsenal's next captain next season?
Captain Per Mertesacker is retiring while vice-captain Laurent Koscielny will not return until 2019
To be a captain of a team means much more than pulling on an armband. It is a sign of authority on the pitch, a responsibility and a duty to represent your team as a whole.
Being captain is an honour, or at least it should be, for any player. It is the manager showing you that he has enough trust in you to literally, and figuratively, lead the team out.
Currently, Arsenal have two captains. Per Mertesacker is the club captain and has his own section in the programmes at each home game. However, due to a range of factors including age and his status in the pecking order, the on-pitch duty has more often than not fallen to the veteran defender that is Laurent Koscielny.
A quiet and reserved figure in the team, Koscienly is a rather strange choice as captain as he does not have the vocal qualities to lead his team when they need rallying. He has proven to be a formidable and impenetrable defender, often putting any part of his body on the line for his team.
However, he has not shown that he can be an effective captain in being a leader within the team, a motivator and ultimately a player who is unable to communicate with the rest of the team.
I personally believe that a captain can only be a player who is situated in the defence or midfield. For a goalkeeper to effectively communicate with his team, when chances to speak to the group as a whole are limited, is a very hard task to be designated with.
The same can be said for strikers. They spend the majority of the match attacking the opposition, often alone, and therefore rarely have direct contact with the rest of the team. The classic example of this is Robin van Persie.
A fantastic player in his Arsenal days, capable of terrorising the most experienced and masterful of defences, however a useless captain. He found it very difficult to appropriately and meaningfully talk to his teammates, often showing signs of frustration and discontent.
This point shows that a great player does not equal a great captain. This is a common misconception in the sport. Whilst this is true of both the Portuguese and Argentinian national teams, rarely does one see the star player wearing the armband.
Who are the ideal candidates to captain the Gunners?
Arsenal will have to start looking for a new captain soon. Mertesacker is retiring at the end of the season and Koscielny is not the player he once was and sooner or later he will be replaced. His Achilles injury will also see him out of action until December.
Petr Cech is in the same boat as his French teammate. He has donned the armband from time to time and has simply not been a good captain. People have said that obvious candidates for the prestigious role as Arsenal skipper are Jack Wilshere, the homegrown hero and a fan through and through, Aaron Ramsey, and Nacho Monreal.
Wilshere is undoubtedly devoted to Arsenal. His fan-like hatred of Tottenham endears him to the majority of fans and his commitment to the side has rarely been questioned. However, his discipline could be an issue.
Whilst he is never afraid to make his feelings and emotions known to anyone within earshot, his language and actions do not always encompass the rapport of the club. He is known for his foul language, hot temper, violent moments and off-the-pitch shenanigans which include smoking and clubbing before matches.
Aaron Ramsey is a polar opposite. A sweet-natured and calm player who very rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. Whilst this is an admirable quality, it can show a fragile side to his personality and makes fans wonder if he is ready as a person to take on the responsibility of captain.
He has shown strength, especially after recovering from a serious leg break to come back stronger and more mature. Whilst he has the arrogance and self-confidence to lead a team, the feeling would be that he simply isn't strong enough.
What about Granit Xhaka? A player often associated with yellow cards and strong, poorly-timed tackles and a lethal shot? He has captained Arsenal on one sole occasion - their recent defeat to Manchester United and he did neither himself nor the armband justice.
However, he does have a number of qualities that could make him an ideal candidate for the position. His pure passion and leadership skills are impossible to miss as he is frequently directing both defensive and attacking moves.
His ability to run a game from the middle of the park with his accurate long balls and strength make him a valuable asset to the team and he has all the potential to be a great captain once he learns a bit more self-discipline.
All in all, it is clear that there is a strong need for change and with Arsene Wenger finally leaving, an on-field change in terms of leadership must also occur for the benefit of the squad and the club.