Why Sead Kolasinac is the player Arsenal were missing all along
He arrived from German club Schalke 04 on a free, but he is arguably one of Arsene Wenger's best signings in the past decade.
It’s fair to say that for the past decade Arsenal and Arsene Wenger has been criticised for their transfer strategy and although they’ve spent approximately £317 million since Mesut Ozil’s arrival in 2013, their free transfer of Sead Kolasinac in summer could prove to be their best deal yet.
The Premier League club has been long crying out for a leader on the pitch, arguably since Patrick Vieira’s departure to Juventus in 2005. Since then, we’ve seen Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Robin van Persie take the role of captain, but neither of them has done so with great effect and although Kolasinac isn’t an Arsenal captain just yet, he’s certainly a candidate when Per Mertesacker retires at the end of the season.
Signed from Schalke 04 in the summer, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international already possesses many of the key attributes that a leader needs and at just 24, he’s yet to enter his prime. We’ve seen already just how boisterous and vocal he is on the pitch and even in his early Arsenal career, we’ve seen just how important of an asset he is.
Already been nicknamed ‘The Destroyer’, ‘The Tank’ and ‘The Bosnian Hulk’ prior to his Emirates arrival, Kolasinac has earned the instant respect from Arsenal fans given his performances, noticeably against Chelsea, while he’s arguably one of Wenger’s most consistent players this season.
And not only does he have a never say die attitude, he also has the ability to play in a number of positions. It was widely expected the Bosnian would be used primarily as a left-back but as shown during his time at Schalke, he can also play further up the pitch, in midfield and at centre-back. We’ve already seen him play at centre-back at Arsenal this season where he excelled and while his brute strength is a key attribute, Kolasinac also has the positional awareness to play almost anywhere.
Upon signing the defender, Wenger told reporters, “I got him as well because of his attitude; the modern game doesn’t tolerate as many weaknesses anymore as it did 20 years ago. He has good talent and a strong, determined attitude supported by a strong body.”
Modern football is constantly changing, we’ve gone from the tiki-taka of Barcelona in a False 9 formation to switching between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations at Arsenal to playing three at the back. A three-man defence is something many fans probably hadn’t have imagined they’d see under Wenger, but it’s slowly starting to work.
We’ve seen just what a 3-4-3/5-2-3 can do at Chelsea and now Wenger may be changing his ways. With Hector Bellerin on the right and Kolasinac on the opposite flank, this certainly matches Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso combination, one that gained so many plaudits last season.
The arrival of Kolasinac has enabled Wenger to change up his game plan, which keeps his opposite number guessing. Arsenal can now change from 3-4-3 to a 4-2-3-1 with relative ease – something they perhaps couldn’t have done under Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna when they were Wenger’s full-backs. In modern football, we’re certainly seeing an increase in the use of wing-backs, providing the width further up the pitch.
Missing just one Premier League game this season, Kolasinac has played at both left-wing-back and centre back for Arsenal this season, featuring six times in the league, creating two goals. Of his six Premier League fixtures that he’s played in, the Gunners have lost just once, a 1-0 defeat away to Stoke City.
Although we’re only in October, Kolasinac has shown what an asset his is to both his teammates and Wenger at Arsenal in what is a considerably short amount of time. There had been question marks over his technical ability but he’s soon squashed those and as previously mentioned at just 24, Kolasinac has all the right attributes to succeed at Arsenal.