The decline of Laurent Koscielny has been as swift as it has been dramatic and although fans will be sorry to see him leave for either Lyon or Rennes, it was clear that the time was right, if only to save his career.
Koscielny has lost pace and appeared to struggle with the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, but that isn’t down to his advancing years.
The defender had spent a number of seasons having to play through the pain barrier whilst obviously carrying injuries and this was because Arsenal had no suitable alternatives to replace their captain whilst he recuperated fully.
Back in 2017, The Independent revealed the Frenchman would require daily treatment on an Achilles injury until the end of his playing career.
“I have some problems, Now it is better. I know it is a difficult injury because you need to work every day on this. Every morning I have my treatment for my Achilles and I know I need to do this to the end of my career.”
In May 2018, Koscielny unsurprisingly ruptured an Achilles in the Europa League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid. It was a match where he had performed adequately, but no more than that.
It was evident that he wasn’t fully fit and hadn’t been for some time and I’d been saying to friends that had there been decent cover, Arsenal would not have asked him to take to the field.
Back then Wenger was in a tight spot, the Europa League was his last chance at glory and he asked his captain to lead the team one last time, knowing Koscielny wouldn’t refuse.
At the time of the injury he was unchallenged, he fell to the ground writhing in agony after just ten minutes of open play. That injury cost him a World Cup and would see him retire from the international stage after being snubbed by Didier Deschamps, who never even bothered to call him to check on his well-being. That’s been a source of tension between the pair ever since and Laurent Koscielny isn’t the forgiving type.
The Achilles has been a recurring problem for the defender which have cost him a total of 252 days out of the game. In October 2017, Koscielny had an Achilles’ tendon problem, but he was only out for 7 days, his recovery was, one suspects, was incomplete.
In January 2018, he was out of action for 17 days with a ‘knock’ which was fabulously nonspecific, so when he was injured in May, it came as no surprise.
Wenger appeared to continuously rush him back in to action because of circumstances and when Emery took over, he too had to rely on the Arsenal skipper to bolster a fragile defence.
By doing this, Arsenal could have ended the players career and it could still be cut short within the next two seasons if he doesn’t act soon. With Arsenal, he would probably last one more season, but not play the full compliment of games.
Arsenal’s participation in the Premiership, domestic cups and in the Europa league would be far too many games on a suspect Achilles.
If Laurent Koscielny is allowed time, he may be able to play beyond the age of 35, but the way he was being used at Arsenal would make it highly unlikely.
He was without question, the best central defender in the premiership for at least two seasons, but he struggled to find a partner who was anywhere near as good. He tried to make up for the shortcomings of others and as a result of that desire, he was injured.
Koscielny was not the best captain but he led by example, often putting his body on the line to hold on to an advantage or just to prevent an avalanche of goals.
It’s a pity he didn’t hold the premier league trophy above his head, he richly deserved to. Leaving Arsenal is a good idea for him as a player as his career winds down.