Arsenal has long been a great place for players to develop from relative unknowns to superstars. French defender Laurent Koscielny; signed from Lorient in the summer of 2010 for a reported fee of around £10 million, looks set to be the next name on that list after an impressive campaign at the Euros has seen him on the receiving end of praise from some of the biggest names in football.
The Arsenal man suffered an inconsistent first few seasons at the Emirates, where he struggled to put his stamp on the Gunners defence. His unconvincing performances led to critics claiming that Koscielny’s impressive rise from reserve in the French second division to Champions League player was a step too soon for him.
Much of the start of his spell can be summarised by his debut, where two yellow cards in just four minutes of injury time after the end of the 90 minutes saw him sent off on his debut against Liverpool and he would finish that season by gifting a goal to Obafemi Martins in the League Cup final against Birmingham City.
Fast forward to 2012, and Koscielny was a French international who had been voted the fourth most important player in the Arsenal squad and given a new long-term contract. Koscielny is now one of the leaders in the Arsenal back line, alongside Per Mertesacker. In a time where Arsene Wenger’s defence is generally considered to be slow and fragile, Koscielny brings quality to the back-line and is usually one of the first names on the Frenchman’s team sheets. His growth and maturity over the last few years have seen Koscielny even taken the captain’s armband on some occasions last season.
At the Euros, the centre-back has been a rock at the back for the host country, playing every minute of France’s campaign so far, partnering both Adil Rami and Samuel Umtiti as France reached the semi-finals with ease before overcoming reigning World Cup champions Germany.
Koscielny was particularly impressive in the semi-final against Germany and can expect to go down in history as one of the performances of the tournament should France defeat Portugal in this evening’s final.
With one year left on his current contract and Koscielny playing better than ever, there will be pressure on Arsenal bosses to get the defender tied down to a longer deal. With the Evening Standard linking Bayern Munich with a move for the 30-year-old unsung hero, it shows an incredible career rise for the man who did not even make a first flight appearance until the age of 23.
If Arsenal are to provide a real title challenge this season, the steel and experience of Laurent Koscielny will be a vital building block for Arsene Wenger to base a title winning side on. With just two FA Cups and one Community Shield to his name in terms of honours, he can add to that list with an unforgettable victory for his home country in Paris, but should he maintain his current level of performance, it could well provide the league title that Gunners fans have been craving for over a decade.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal.