Arsenal are closing in on their first signing of the summer in the form of Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac. This is a story that has been reported across the English media, including the Independent. Although the deal has yet to be announced, it is believed that the Gunners have beaten several other clubs to his signature.
Given that the Bosnia and Herzegovina international is coming in on a free transfer, there is relatively little risk to this deal and it is one that shows forward-thinking from the club. If he does sign as expected, it could spell the end for Nacho Monreal’s career at the Emirates Stadium.
Kolasinac is an aggressive defender and a willing attacker, making him an excellent modern-day full-back. At the back, he is good at winning the ball back with his current average of ball recoveries per ninety minutes at 6.26.
He rarely backs of an attacker and looks to pinch the ball high up the pitch, which often allows his side to break with pace down the left-hand side.
Standing at six feet, the left-back is an imposing figure and one that can hold his own in a physical battle. He would quickly adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. In addition to his strength and power, the Schalke player has good acceleration, allowing him to recover if he makes a mistake or is caught out of possession.
One issue that he can have defensively is that he can sometimes be rash in the challenge.
His tackling technique needs to improve and this will be a concern for Arsenal, especially as they are already having problems with Granit Xhaka. However, Kolasinac’s disciplinary record isn’t too bad, as he only has four yellow cards in 21 Bundesliga matches. His problem lies in his tendency to concede free kicks in dangerous positions.
Going forward, Kolasinac is great to watch, as he poses a real threat down the left wing. His pace and power allow him to carry the ball long distances, while he uses his frame to beat opposition players. He may not be skilful, but when he reaches full speed, there is little defenders can do to stop him.
This season, he has contributed three goals and five assists, which is a great return for a full-back. In terms of chances created, the 23-year-old creates 1.15 per ninety minutes, which is more than both Monreal (0.39) and Hector Bellerin (0.79). He can overlap, but he prefers to link-up with his team-mates and move into central areas.
Although he has a good total of assists this season, his crossing needs to be worked on. He can often be wasteful when he looks to put a ball into the area and he needs to improve that over the coming years. This could be less of an issue at Arsenal, depending on how Arsene Wenger rebuilds this summer.
They currently have a striker who thrives on aerial balls in Olivier Giroud, but they may opt for a more mobile striker this summer. If that is the case, it could be that Kolasinac is asked to put fewer balls into the box and instead look to keep the ball on the ground.
If Arsenal do manage to complete the signing of Kolasinac, it could be one of the best deals done this summer.
At the age of 23, he already has a lot of experience in the Bundesliga and internationally, while he has the attributes to adapt quickly to the Premier League. The potential to field two attacking full-backs in Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac is exciting for Arsenal supporters, providing them with real quality down either flank.
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