Loyalty is a trait that is becoming scarcer in football by the season.
So many players we bless with our support, our adoration. They perform admirably on the pitch, give their all for the badge, but an offer from elsewhere turns their head.
For their heads to turn in the first place means that their so-called devotion to the club was a bag of lies in the first place. Why would you look elsewhere when you’ve found home?
How many teams can say that they have had a player who has left it all on the pitch, nearly every game? A player who has stayed season after season, in the face of disappointment, a lack of silverware and poor results?
At Arsenal, we have the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal who can hold their heads up high. They have done all that has been asked of them and more. They have put their bodies on the line, played while suffering from ailments and injuries. Monreal and Koscielny have been fine servants of the cannon from the day they joined.
Now though, they are nearing the end of their careers. Toward the twilight years, the level of effectiveness, their average performance level, inevitably drops. It is the same of every player and with the amount of injuries Monreal and especially Koscielny have suffered, this is hardly surprising.
The alarming thing is however, that these two, despite losing a yard of pace and intermittent layoffs impacting match sharpness and rhythm, they were probably our best defenders last season, alongside Sokratis.
The dilemma now though, is where we go from here.
Do we continue with them at the forefront of our backline? Rely on them just as much as we did last season, despite the ever-increasing odds of injury?
Or do we let them go, thank them for their service and bid them good luck in pastures new?
Their unswerving loyalty perhaps deserves better, but with the position we are in, improvement is a must. On the other hand, these two still have plenty to offer our first team, and much more to hand down to our promising group of youngsters, such as Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Zach Medley and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The predicament is a tough one for Emery. If he cuts them loose, there will be some who think it’s the wrong decision and some will applaud the ruthless nature.
If he keeps them in, then there will be plenty who will highlight the fact that our defence needs much more than what Monreal and Koscielny can offer, and we need improvement rather than the same as what he have had previously, which was proven to be lacking.
Emery can’t win, and frankly, I don’t envy his decision.
Whatever happens, we can all agree that Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal have been fine players for us. We can look back on their Arsenal careers and see two players who did the Cannon proud.
Who knows, they could still do the same next season.