Bordeaux Announce Signing Laurent Koscielny in a Controversial Way (Video)

Bordeaux have completed the signing of Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny, and announced the deal with a video of the experienced centre-back taking his Arsenal shirt off in a seemingly satisfied fashion to reveal a Bordeaux one under it. Disrespectful towards the club he spent nine years with? Judge for yourselves, but former Arsenal striker Ian […]

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The post Bordeaux Announce Signing Laurent Koscielny in a Controversial Way (Video) appeared first on Soccer News.

Koscielny’s Arsenal career ends badly, but club must now react in the market

Wednesday. Transfer deadline, t-minus 35 hours and counting.

Remember that Gene Pitney song where he was only 24 hours from Tulsa and then he met some girl at a cafe and then took off with her instead of going home? Well, Raul Sanllehi has just over 24 hours to pull into a road-side eatery and find us some defenders. If he has to schmooze them, and dance with them, holding them in his Catalan arms, so be it. Needs must.

As expected we’re a defender down now that Laurent Koscielny’s move to Bordeaux was confirmed yesterday. The bottom line is that this is not good for us on the eve of a new season. It’s left us in the lurch a bit, because I’m quite sure the plan was for him to stay this season and provide some experience and depth, and I’m also convinced he and Sokratis would have been our first choice for the opening stages of the new campaign.

Clearly though, there’s been a complete breakdown between the Frenchman and the club, and as I’ve said throughout this whole thing, I don’t think there’s any way to defend his behaviour. I think it’s entirely reasonable to wonder what has made a previously mild-mannered man, and someone who has always been thoroughly professional, behave the way he did. However, when it comes right down to it, he had a contract until 2020 and Arsenal were perfectly within their rights to expect him to see that out, or seek a fee for him via the transfer market.

Why should we let him go for free? Yes, he’s done a lot in nine years, put his body on the line etc etc, but he’s also been very well paid in that time. We didn’t owe him a favour, but I suspect that Koscielny might have been given certain assurances from people who are no longer at the club that we’d facilitate a departure this summer. The new people in charge are not of the mindset to do that – especially when every penny counts, and that produced this stand off.

In a statement released via Instagram last night, Koscielny said:

I have spent wonderful years with this club, nine years during which I learned, evolved, grew up.

This experience made me the player I am today. My decision to leave has been discussed for months with my club, my teammates, my coach, and it has been a well thought decision.

So, if we take him at his word, this wasn’t simply a snap decision, and it was something the club have been aware of for months. In which case, you could ask if it might have been handled differently? Could Arsenal have thought ‘This is a player in the October of his career, he wants to go home, we need to build for the future. Let’s sort out a transfer and move on?’.

It’s probably a simplistic way of looking at it, but again without trying to defend Koscielny, there are always two sides to these things. I don’t like the way he behaved. As a player under contract, and captain of the club, you have a responsibility to behave the right way, and what he did by refusing to go on the tour was just not right. But if he’s telling the truth in his statement, this can’t have been a bolt from the blue for Arsenal either.

I’ve seen some people suggest this is actually Koscielny’s way of doing Arsenal a favour. Such is his love for the club he’s behaved this way to force us to rebuild our defence. It’s a lovely idea, but let’s not be naive. This is about what he wanted, not what was best for Arsenal because if he really cared about that he wouldn’t leave us on the eve of a new season with just three central defenders to choose from – particularly three of such varying quality.

These last weeks will certainly overshadow his time at the club for many. That’s completely understandable. He was a popular player whose legacy feels tarnished right now. I don’t think it’s a case that Koscielny now hates Arsenal or anything like that. Players come at these things very differently than fans do. We tend to be fairly unforgiving at any perceived slight towards our clubs. They look at what they do as a job and the realities of that job mean you can upset people who previously held you in high esteem. For example, there are Arsenal fans who have no time for Cesc Fabregas, yet he still cares deeply for the club and has great fondness for his time here – whether people like to think that or not.

In Koscielny’s case, his desire to go back to France – perhaps for family or personal reasons that we’re not aware of – was more important than upsetting fans of the club he played for for nine years. I guess I’m just too long in the tooth to get completely outraged by this. Maybe if we were losing a player in his prime to a significant rival that would be different. But Koscielny is nearly 34 years of age, and the physical effects of his big injury were apparent last season as we tried to play him into the ground following his return. Moving on from him was inevitable, it had to happen sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s come a transfer window too soon for the club, but either way it’s not something we can have been surprised by considering those months of discussions.

I’m not telling anyone else what to feel, by the way. You can be as angry or furious as you like. I just feel a bit sad that a player I really liked has left the club this way. Like anyone else he had his ups and downs, but since his arrival in 2010 as a young Bart Simpson looking bloke whose name was hard to spell, he’s basically been our best central defender – often paired with players who would be a challenge to partner.

I remember fondly his partnership with Per Mertesacker, which was about the best we’ve had in recent years. I remember the final day goals against West Brom and Newcastle which earned us wins to secure Champions League football at the expense of Sp*rs. I remember the goal against Hull in the FA Cup final in 2014 to equalise in the second half before we went on to win the cup and end that interminable trophy drought. I remember that we played him and played him with a chronic Achilles problem until it snapped in Madrid and he missed the chance to win a European trophy with us and win the World Cup with France. I remember the video which showed how hard it was for him to come back from such a traumatic injury and still be our best defender last season. This is a guy who always did his best for us, until now.

I don’t like the way he behaved. I don’t like the way this has played out so publicly. I don’t like that we’re light on centre-halves with the new season just a few days away. But I don’t dislike Laurent Koscielny because of it. It’s a shame it’s ended the way it has, from all sides, but our reality is now that we have to deal with it and find a way to add someone to the squad.

So now we come full circle to Raul who is 24 Hours from Tulsa where hopefully he’s meeting the agent of Dayot Upamecano with a brown envelope full of cash to convince the player to join Arsenal. Or something.

Tick. Tock.

Two defenders set to leave – but who is going to come in?

Tuesday. Transfer deadline, t-minus 58 hours and counting.

Remember that movie with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte ’48 hours’? Well, Arsenal have just over that to sort out their defence ahead of the new season. The movie didn’t last 48 hours by the way, that was just the title. Expect more time-related nonsense in tomorrow’s post.

Anyway, here’s what’s happening. On the outgoing front it looks like we could be about to lose two defenders. Firstly, Carl Jenkinson is being linked with a move to Nottingham Forest. Even with Hector Bellerin injured and some way from a comeback, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as our only right back option (remember, we loaned out Jordi Osei-Tutu earlier in the summer), it sees the Archbishop of Banterbury is considered expendable. If you’re feeling sad about that, listen to Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipses of the Heart to hear his dad’s plaintive backing vocals.

In seriousness though, he made just eight appearances last season, and thus far hasn’t picked up the move scuppering injury that seems to happen every summer. I suspect this is our last goodbye, should the deal go through, and it ought to add a few quid to the coffers.

Then, Laurent Koscielny is set to complete a move to Bordeaux today after talks between the two clubs took place last week. A fee of €5m is mentioned, which is not bad for a player who turns 34 in September, and who has obviously had injury problems very recently. The breakdown between the captain and the club has clearly been irreconcilable, and while I cannot defend his behaviour in any way – especially as we don’t know what exactly has happened – I do think it’s a shame he’s going to depart under such a cloud.

I guess it’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say when he eventually addresses the situation. Will he drop some devastating truth bomb? Will that change people’s minds about what he’s done and how he’s done it? Or will it be a case that he explains his side of the story and we think ‘It was all over that?!’.

Regardless, for now at least, a once very popular player will leave the club without the kind of goodwill he should have. This is a club which has serious defensive issues, and a team which could do with Laurent Koscielny in it – particularly at the start of the season and as Rob Holding makes his way back from injury. There’s a sense that the captain of the club has just exacerbated those issues, with full knowledge of where that would leave us, while those of a slightly more cynical outlook might suggest that being so heavily reliant on a player of his age who has gone through the kind of injury situation Koscielny has isn’t exactly smart planning. No doubt it’ll all come out in the wash one way or the other.

So, where does that leave us defensively two days away from the closure of the transfer window?

Right back: Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Hector Bellerin*, Calum Chambers

Centre-half: Sokratis, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding**, Dinos Mavropanos***

Left back: Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac

* injured – expected return late September/October
** injured – expected return mid-September
*** – injured – expected return date unknown

That, I’m afraid, is not the greatest collection of defenders I’ve ever seen at this football club. Certainly not in terms of the ones we have available to us for the opening part of the new season. Basically, there are question marks over all of them apart from Sokratis. AMN at right back is hit and miss, but our eggs are well and truly in that basket now so let’s hope he can step up. I just worry about his defensive instincts, given he’s not really a defender.

I have some hope for Calum Chambers, but not much for Shkodran Mustafi whose future surely lies elsewhere after three seasons during which he has gone backwards as a player. We’ve spent all summer in the very public pursuit of a left back, which tells us that faith in the two players we currently have isn’t at its maximum, and that the club deems one of them, at least, expendable. As Nacho Monreal was named one of Emery’s five captains, it seems likely that Kolasinac was someone earmarked for a potential departure – had we managed to bring in Tierney – so how does that affect him going into a new season, knowing that’s what the club/staff think of him? Maybe he’ll be out to show them they’re wrong, but equally it could be something which affects his motivation.

In short, it’s a problematic area which requires some serious attention between now and Thursday. Reports yesterday that we’ve inquired about RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano were promising, but the German side seem determined to hang on to him. The other name doing the rounds is Juventus centre-half Daniele Rugani. I can’t pretend to know too much about him as a player, but he played just 15 Serie A game last season, starting the season on the bench but appearing more frequently towards the end of the campaign. I’m just not sure there’s a solid track record of Italian centre-halves doing well in the Premier League.

At the same time though, I don’t think we’re in a situation where we can afford to be overly picky. We’ve had all summer to sort out our defence, and that we’re just a couple of days away from the deadline means we may have to compromise because the situation demands it. The 2016 signings of Mustafi and Lucas Perez as we approached the close of the transfer window are perfect examples of how your hand can be forced, and the £53m we spent on both those players is a long way from the best business we’ve ever done.

On a more positive note though, I have to think that the fact we’re allowing Koscielny to go, even with a fee, is a sign that we’ve got somebody lined up to come in and take his place in the squad. Until it happens though, and until we see that player holding up shirt in an official announcement, you can’t blame people for growing ever more anxious about the defensive side of our squad.

Whatever happens, we’ll cover it over on Arseblog News. For now, I’ll leave you with our 300th episode of the Arsecast Extra, chatting about the pre-season, transfer business, and lots more. Till tomorrow.


This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL

Bordeaux in talks over Koscielny

According to a recent report from Sky sources, French clubs Bordeaux and Rennes are currently in talks with Arsenal Football Club over the potential signing of Laurent Koscielny. Bordeaux’s president has made it known that he would be really interested in the idea of bringing the Frenchman over to Ligue 1, however, neither club has […]

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Saturday round-up: Coutinho, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bielik

After the week that was, it’s natural things are a bit quieter this morning. When you’re waiting for them to #AnnouncePepe, there’s not a lot that’s going to beat that.

That said, I have woken up to stories from Spain about how we’re apparently interested in signing Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona. After what happened with Pepe and how unexpected that was, I guess we can’t rule anything out, but given the outlay on the Ivorian, and the far more pressing needs we have at the back, I find it hard to believe any of that is true.

The only conceivable way it could happen is if we’re selling someone like Mesut Ozil and/or Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but otherwise there’s nothing about this that makes a lot of sense. Are we playing games to do Barcelona a favour or something? I don’t know, but as I can’t see us selling either of the players I mentioned, I’m going to file this one way under ‘Almost certainly complete horseshit’ – thus giving me the ability to resurrect it if there is some truth to it.

It’d be mad though. The money involved would be insane, and the money involved would be far better spent addressing our defensive issues. The Laurent Koscielny thing rumbles on with reports that Bordeaux have sent a delegation to London to convince us to let the captain go for free.

Bordeaux: Let him go for free.

Arsenal: No.

Bordeaux: Ah please.

Arsenal: No.

Bordeaux: We’ll be your friend.

Arsenal: Get out.

The BBC reported during the week that we were in talks with ‘a number of clubs’ over the departure of Shkodran Mustafi:

Arsenal: Fancy a Mustafi. Still in very good condition?

Club 1: No.

Arsenal: Can I tempt you gentlemen with this World Cup winning centre-half?

Club 2: No.

Arsenal: Ah please

etc etc.

The centre of our defence remains the big part of the project left to complete. The summer renovation has seen us install new energy efficient triple-glazed windows, we’ve stuck an extension on the front, remodelled the interior, but out the back we have a gaping hole in the roof and every time it rains we’re going to get pissed on. On a BBC thingy, David Ornstein says we’re still after Kieran Tierney and a centre-half, but the clock is well and truly ticking.

The market for central defenders has just been shifted on its axis by Manchester United paying £85m for Harry Maguire, an Easter Island statue on legs. We all understand the ‘English tax’ and the fact it’s a transfer between two Premier League clubs, therefore it’s way above and beyond what you’d pay for an equivalent talent from abroad. Nevertheless, it is going to skew the market somewhat, and as Maguire will become the most expensive defender of all time other deals might find themselves impacted by that.

Leicester need a centre-half now though. I can picture it. Raul sweet talking Brendan into the £73m capture of a German international with experience in England, Spain and Italy, bringing a continental je ne sais quoi to the Foxes.

In seriousness though, if we can do a deal for Nicolas Pepe, one of the hottest young attacking talents in European football, is there any reason why we couldn’t do something similar for a defender? I know we’ve signed William Saliba, but as good as he might be, there’s nothing he can do for us next season. It’s interesting that over the summer links to central defenders have kind of faded away. Earlier in the off-season there were names like Dayot Upamecano, Sampdoria’s Joachim Andersen, and Borussia Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou Joey Joe Joe Zagadou. Players whose profiles made a lot of sense, but since then we’ve heard little about who we might be after.

Perhaps it’s the club playing its cards close to its chest, the way we did with Pepe, and over the next few days we’ll get a nice surprise. It might also be that the complication of the captain going on strike and the difficulty of moving on Mustafi are a kind of roadblock right now. Either way, we have to make some decisions between now and Thursday, which is when the transfer window closes.

One man who some thought could play a part this season but who definitely won’t now, is Krystian Bielik who has joined Derby County. The deal could be worth up to £10m, and with a sell-on clause too it could generate further revenue down the line. While I think it’s a bit of a shame that a player who did as much as he could while out on loan to suggest he should be given a chance, it’s a pretty decent fee for a player who barely played for us – much more in line with the kind of money we should be getting for players like this. Sure, it highlights how dreadful some of our previous sales have been (Szczesny *cough*), but it’s a step in the right direction.

The other thing we have to consider is the fact that while Arsenal wanted Bielik to sign a new deal and go out on loan against next season, he was steadfastly against that, so rather than let his contract and value run down further, we made the decision to sell while he had two years left on his contract. Maybe it’s one we’ll come to regret, but even with the defensive issues we have right now that he wasn’t even considered an option could tell us about his readiness for Premier League football – or at least how Arsenal staff judged him. Which isn’t to say they’re infallible by any means, but still.

We’ve been a club that has sold badly in recent years, it’s one of the areas that we’ve wanted to see addressed and an improvement in, and these are the kind of deals that generate a reasonable amount of money for a club which can, as we know, only spend what it makes.

Right, that’s your lot for this morning. If you haven’t yet had a chance to listen to this week’s Arsecast, there’s plenty of Nicolas Pepe and lots more. Links below. Have a good Saturday.


I’m afraid I must insist

Arsenal owe us all a day. That’s right. I know everyone reading this has spent plenty of time on this club. Going to games. Getting back from games. Spending more hours than we should online chatting to people about this club. And don’t get me wrong, those conversations, those connections, are often fantastic but I think it’s fair to say this morning that today we’re all owed a day by Arsenal.

If I were to see Arsenal right now, I would use the words of one the 20th century’s great minds to express how I feel. Tony. Fat Tony. It’s a little rude to draw attention to his weight, but nicknames are nicknames. I was called Mango for years because of my surname. I don’t mind sharing it with a fruit and Dublin’s finest rapper, but nevertheless, the point is Fat Tony wouldn’t take this lying down. Certainly not from a football club.

He would address the situation head on. No messing around. Whether it was Raul or Vinai or Stan or Josh he would tell them exactly how he felt:

I’m afraid I must insist. You see, my wife, she has been most vocal on the subject of the Nicolas Pepe. “Where’s the Pepe? “When are you going to get the Pepe?” “Why aren’t you getting the Pepe now?” And so on. So please, the Pepe.

We all waited. All day. All night long (yeah jumbo jumbo). And what happened? Nothing. Apart from Arsenal playing a game of football, but who is really interested in football when we could be talking about a transfer? Unfortunately, because of a prior commitment, I didn’t see the football but Andrew Allen put himself through the ordeal and reported on it, so the very least you could do is go and read his report. What a trooper.

Apparently we won on penalties. We’d have won on penalties more if we’d had Pepe because literally 109% of his goals are from spot kicks. All the same, it’s good to get a win and we have one more game before our new season begins. That’s against Barcelona on Sunday. I will definitely watch that because, given it’s Unai Emery’s final chance to prepare his team for our Premier League opener against Newcastle, we should get a good idea of what he’s thinking for that game.

Anyway, afterwards the boss talked about Pepe, refusing to confirm his arrival, but talking about his development as a player:

He played here in Angers a few years ago, and then in Lille. He has progressed as a player. We are speaking about a lot of players, we want to select on players who can really help us, give us big performances and improve our squad. We have different options. This one at the moment is not closed, but he is one we are following.

Ok mate. “Not closed”. We’ve all seen the pics of Stuart and Pepe and when Stuart’s in the pictures you know he’s been taking other pictures. Important pictures. Plus you don’t talk about how Pepe might play with Aubameyang if he’s not coming. This goes back to my beef at the top of the article about how everyone should get a day off work because of this. I think that’s what I said anyway. I can’t be arsed to go back and check. Basically, Pepe’s arrival should be a bank holiday for everyone in the world who is an Arsenal fan. St Nicolas’ Day, or something.

Away from exciting transfer news though, the boss was quizzed about the Laurent Koscielny situation which is a cloud hanging over things at this moment in time. It doesn’t sound too promising though:

At the moment his decision is to leave and we are also thinking if we can improve with other players and how we can help with him. He’s a very important player for us. We are speaking with him and with the team, about my responsibilities, the club’s responsibility and his responsibility.

With respect it’s better for us, it’s better for the team, and it’s changing our idea with the centre back, because if he is here with us this season, it’s very different than if he isn’t with us. At the moment it’s a very personal decision, and we are respecting that. I am speaking with him and we are going to find the best solution, but overall we need a player like him. We want to be strong in our defensive line, working with the players we have now.

As I said the other day, I’m sure the plan this season was for Koscielny to stay, to ease the burden on him by bringing in another defender to replace the one that we want to sell, and as the season progressed we’d have Rob Holding returning from injury to cement his first team place. Potentially at the expense of Koscielny, but when you’re 34 years of age that’s kinda what happens naturally.

Despite it all, I agree with Emery that from a footballing point of view, we’d be better off with Koscielny in the squad this season. However, you can’t ignore these circumstances, and a player who feels like he has to stay when he doesn’t really want to isn’t in the right place mentally to give you what you need out on the pitch. Without defending his behaviour in any way, whatever has happened means his departure is basically inevitable and it’s a shame it’s going to end this way. And as per a previous blog, it leaves us with a big problem to sort out before the start of the new season.

Right, that’s your lot for today. We can now commence the waiting for the Nicolas Pepe. Please stare at your watch or a clock or the time on your phone. It will pass much more quickly if you do that – much like watching a pot of water that is being brought to a boil.

Till tomorrow!