Laurent Koscielny has been a great servant for Arsenal football club. It wasn’t long ago, that he was lauded for his performances and referred to as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League, but time and injuries have caught up with the Frenchman and both the player and club have some decisions to make.
Dress it up how you like, but Koscielny is in decline and his recurring Achilles problems mean that all parties concerned need to look to the future.
Koscielny has a year, possibly two left, but his body will not permit a full season at the highest level. Emery has needed his experience and defensive reliability in his first term in charge and has tried to protect him wherever possible.
Unfortunately, when Laurent recovered from his ruptured Achilles’ tendon in last season’s Europa League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid, he was rushed back.
He had been suffering from on going niggles under Wenger, but was used out of necessity that evening and it back fired appallingly. He said of his injury:
“For seven months I had to fight for my career and though it was a difficult experience I loved it because sometimes your eyes are opened more than before.”
He came back in November last year, but it wasn’t long before he had to take up his position in the first team through a series of injuries and suspensions, thus preventing him being introduced at a gentle pace.
As such, it has again hindered the Arsenal Captain, who has had to put on his boots for the cut and thrust of the Premier League, when he should have been playing low key games with less pressure.
But that’s what Laurent has always been about. Bravery and courage have replaced common sense and self preservation on occasions leading him here, to make choices he doesn’t want to make and to confront his reality.
The Achilles injury is nothing new, Koscielny suffered problems in 2014/15 season and it surfaced again in October 2017.
He played on regardless and by May the following year, the damage was done. He hadn’t been managed well because Wenger and Arsenal were on a knife edge, they needed success but it cost the French defender dearly.
Koscielny will probably be listening to his bodies aches and pains. He will be recognising that training is tougher these days and that he needs more time to recover from the big games.
He will no doubt know that the clock is ticking and that he has to decide when his career is at an end and that won’t be long at the age of 33.
? May 3, 2018: Stretchered off in Madrid
? May 9, 2019: Ready to go in Valencia@6_LKOSCIELNY on working his way back to the top ?
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 9, 2019
He has a Europa League final to look forward to and there’s no doubt that he will be in that side as Captain. It would be the perfect way for him to close this chapter of his career with a victory and a trophy.
There is a less abrupt alternative of course. That Laurent Koscielny plays for one last season and takes part in the first phase of Emery’s revolution.
He is out of contract in June next year, but could easily be put on an appearance based contract for 11 months and that would be the smartest thing for both parties.
The Frenchman no longer plays for his country, so he has the summer to recuperate and used sparingly for key games next season, he could prove to be a major asset.
Emery is looking forward and Laurent is not part of his long term plans. He will look to him for an assured performance in Baku and will already have informed the board of his thoughts on the player’s possible contract extension.
In Koscielny’s favour, Holding is coming back from injury. Mustafi is likely to be shown the exit door and the jury is still out on Mavropanos.
Emery probably won’t have the funds to replace all the players he needs to and as such, he will have to work with the best of what he has and that’s Koscielny.
It all depends on the discussion which will take place after the Europa league final and it may be that Laurent Koscielny will want to head back to France to finish his career once he realises that Emery intends to use him as first reserve.
Whatever happens, he has been ‘incroyable’