Reports suggest that Arsenal have already finalised their first signing ahead of the new season, bringing in Bosnian left-back Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke.
But what are Arsenal going to get? What kind of player is he, and how will he fit into the Gunners current set-up.
Lewis Ambrose reports.
In Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal are on the brink of a very encouraging start to the summer transfer window.
A young left-back was a target last summer but Arsenal were too busy with other positions to make it a priority. This year, though, Nacho Monreal’s form has been in decline and it does appear to be time to find the long-term solution.
The most striking thing about Kolasinac is his sheer size. Six feet tall and incredibly stocky, the Bosnian doesn’t look much like a fullback. However, his size hardly slows him down and he is good on the ball; at times he can be inefficient and look a little unclean in possession but is so physically dominant that he can make up for errors routinely.
This season he has excelled as a wing-back when Schalke have fielded a back five. A license to push forward brought the best out of him: the 23-year-old has scored three and assisted five goals in 21 Bundesliga appearances this campaign.
With three centre-backs behind him for the majority of the season, the Bosnian has had freedom not just to surge forward on the ball but also to defend aggressively, a luxury he won’t quite be afforded with Arsenal. Arsenal’s defence is mostly young and there are valid concerns that there could be an imbalance with him and Hector Bellerin on the flanks.
Kolasinac can also play as a more traditional left-back, though, with Schalke’s recent reversion to a back four having no impact on his form until injury ruled him out for the last couple of weeks.
On the plus side, Kolasinac has also been used as a centre-back in the past. Though he likes to attack the ball he can sit a little deeper and certainly has the mentality to mature and choose his moments if that is what the team requires.
Another concern further down the line may be fitness. Despite his youth, Kolasinac has already suffered a serious injury, ruled out for over five months after rupturing his cruciate ligament in 2014. Encouragingly, he has seldom had fitness troubles in the two-and-a-bit years since his return.
Despite reports he rejected Everton and Milan for Arsenal, the defender has also been linked with Juventus, Chelsea, and Manchester City in recent months.
On a free transfer, albeit with a big wage and a significant signing-on fee, this looks like it will be a fantastic deal in a position Arsenal badly needed to strengthen in the near future.
Arsenal will not be using Kolasinac in the role he has been so impressive in this year but he certainly has the right attributes to become the club’s first choice left-back for the foreseeable future.