As usual, Arsenal were a bit short on details regarding the contract of Laurent Koscielny, going the normal “long term deal for an undisclosed fee”, but we do have some tidbits to pass along.
The official signing has been reported at somewhere between £8.5m and £10m. Rumored to be on a four year deal and £25,000 per week, Koscielny’s rise to The Arsenal has been rather meteoric. Yeah, sure, he was playing in Ligue 2 just 2 years ago, but clearly Lorient spotted something in the 6’1″ central defender when they bought him last year for just 1.7m Euros. What they spotted, and more importantly what Arsene Wenger spotted was a player who’s got some grit about him, likes a good challenge and certainly is up for the tackle. In fact, Koscielny led all of Ligue 1 this past season in tackles. During the 2008/09 campaign, Koscielny was voted Player of the Year by his fellow footballers in Ligue 2. At 24 he might appear to be a late bloomer (to rise to the attention of Arsenal or a Ligue 1 side), but I think it’s more a matter of being noticed late on rather than developing slowly. Central defenders have long careers, and I think we got our man at just the right time in experience and development for him to be an integral part of the back four for years to come.
Said Wenger of the signing: “”Koscielny is a central defender with great ability who performed extremely well last season for Lorient. We identified him as a very strong centre half, who has made big progress very quickly. He has shown he is mentally strong, he’s a fighter and a very strong competitor. Koscielny is a great addition to our squad.”
Weighing in at roughly 165 pounds, Koscielny does appear to be in need of a good months’ worth of English breakfasts to add some bulk to deal with the likes of a Drogba or Anelka. Like Vermaelen though, Koscielny has very good positional awareness and speed, is an excellent header of the ball when clearing and sweeps the danger area well as last man.
There’s been plenty of debate around the Arsenal blog universe as to whether Koscielny will step right into a starting role next to Vermaelen, or if he’s to be a rising substitute until he gets his Premiership legs under him. I think Arsenal will continue to move aggressively this summer on transfers. I know it’s a bit frustrating for all of us at how quiet Arsenal are publicly about such things, but clearly there will be some more moves and the central defender position could yet see another addition to add experience, especially if Sol Campbell does not return. With Djourou also in the mix, there will be ample competition to prove who belongs next to The Verminator this season and beyond.
Kit wise, Koscielny will take up the historic #6 shirt.
Here is Koscielny’s official website where you can see some good action fotos and a couple vids. Unfortunately it’s all in French, so you’ll have to do some Google or babelfish translations if you want to read the full write ups and whatnot.