Few in Blighty would have heard of Lorient defender Laurent Koscielny before the summer, but now the 24-year-old centre-half is the name on all Arsenal fans lips after manager Arsene Wenger has made his move to snap up the defender.
The Gunners tried to sure-up their backline last summer splurging out on former Ajax centre-half Thomas Vermaelen, but after another trophy-less season The Professor is looking to replenish his back-line just twelve months later. This has much to do with the uncertainty surrounding whether or not Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas will remain at the Emirates next season, and even if those defenders remain on the north Londoners books next term, many will question whether they have the ability to lead Arsenal to silverware.
Koscielny, predominately a left-sided defender, was signed by Lorient from Tours in the summer of 2009 for a reported Â£1.2m transfer fee. At Les Merlus Koscielny quickly established himself as a mainstay in the heart of their rearguard, playing 40 matches in all competitions and netting four goals in the process.
Standing 6ft 1in tall, Koscielny though is far more accomplished than just being a big lanky lump at the back. Lauded for his positional awareness, pace, and tackling ability, Koscielny has forged a reputation as a robust and reliable defender. However it must be pointed out that he is yet to be tested at the highest levels.
Able to play for both France and Poland, Koscielny has yet to make his international debut for either nation, while the toughest level of football which he has been exposed to is one season in the French top flight.
That being the case, Arsenal appeared to have hedged their bets on Koscielny proving himself as the real deal by offering â‚¬5 million to Lorient for the defender. That offer though was swiftly rejected by the Ligue 1 outfit, with the Breton club rumoured to be holding out for â‚¬8m. Arsenal have since countered by offering defender Francis Coquelin on loan to Lorient to secure Koscielny’s signature.
Lorient appear to be in a strong position to ask for more dosh though, considering the other clubs said to be circling Koscielny. Both Lyon and Lille are mooted to be eyeing the Caen youth product, while Zenit St. Petersburg have also been linked to the defender.
During his time with Tours Koscielny netted a handful of goals from set-plays (see here), and that trend continue with Lorient last term (see here). Yet Gunners fans won’t be too interested in his goal-scoring form, rather his ability to defend.
On that note, it should be pointed out that Koscielny did somewhat embarrass himself against Bordeaux last season in the cup. After loosely giving away possession to the opposition with a lazy right-footed clearance out of defence, Koscielny proceeded to bring down new Arsenal signing Marouane Chamakh in the box which lead to the defender being sent off. (Footage can be seen here.)