Arsene Wenger brought Laurent Koscielny to the club in 2010 in a deal which provided Arsenal with a leadership figure who thrived under his compatriot, but the end of the Wenger era also looks set to spell the end of Koscielny’s career in north London.
The 51-cap France international has been one of the most consistently excellent central defenders in the Premier League during his stint with the Gunners. Commanding Arsenal’s defensive line with his brilliant understanding of the game and willingness to throw everything on the line for the club, Koscielny has stolen the hearts of the Arsenal supporters.
The final years of Wenger’s reign were characterised by a collectively meek and defeatist attitude which saw Arsenal fall into decline and lose their place in the Champions League as a consequence – but Koscielney was an anomaly to the rule.
A brave warrior on the field of play, Koscielny has never shirked responsibility or failed to play for the badge, but at 33-years-old and with Unai Emery looking to stamp his own mark on the club, it seems more than likely that he will depart at the end of the season.
Koscielny is currently sidelined with an achilles tendon rupture which is expected to keep him out until December, but he faces an uphill battle to win back his first-team place ahead of Sokratis.
Sven Mislintat’s connection with Borussia Dortmund surfaced once again in the summer transfer window as Sokratis arrived at the Emirates Stadium in a deal worth £16 million, and the early signs are there to suggest that he will become a key player this season.
Sokratis has the leadership credentials and the defensive brain to step into Koscielny’s shoes and become a key figurehead in Emery’s new-look back-line, whilst Shkodran Mustafi’s improvement and Rob Holding’s rise to prominence will force the Frenchman to play nothing more than a bit-part role upon his return from injury.
But Koscielny is not the type of player to settle for a place on the bench and if he struggles to win his place back this season there is no doubt he will go searching for a new challenge next summer.
Considering he is richly experienced and a proven talent in the Premier League, Koscielny will be presented with enticing opportunities in England and across Europe next summer, and he is bound to jump at one of them to boost his chances of playing regular first-team football in the final years of his career.
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