Player to Leave
Sead Kolasinac #31
Position: LWB / LB
Nation: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Price: Free Transfer (Schalke 04)
Wage: £100,000 per week
Potential Fee: £15-£20 million
The Bosnian’s career at Arsenal couldn’t have started more promisingly. He scored a towering header vs Chelsea in the 2017 Community Shield, which forced penalties and saw the Gunners triumph over their London rivals. Signed as a free agent in the summer of 2017, formerly of Schalke 04, Kolasinac was viewed as shrewd business by Arsenal. He looked a physical specimen capable of adding steel to Arsenal’s often feeble defence. 5 assists and 3 goals earned him a place in the Bundesliga Team of the Season in his final year in Germany, an attacking return that had Gooners excited about his potential.
The overwhelming issue Kolasinac has had at Arsenal is not playing in a system that gets the most out of his skillset. The Bosnian excels in the left wingback position. It allows him to bomb forward and provide service to the Arsenal attackers. He possesses tremendous bursts of pace and is very difficult to knock off the ball. His final ball is dangerous, creating 18 big chances, 11 of which led to goals, in his 68 Premier League appearances. However, Arsenal have rarely played in a 5-man defence. Wenger, Emery, and Arteta have all preferred a classic back four. The added defensive responsibilities of playing as a traditional fullback has proved difficult for Kolasinac. His defensive awareness is poor, losing track of his man on countless occasions, sometimes leading to goals. It often seems that the Bosnian relies solely on his physical strength while defending, instead of taking up good positions and tackling with clean technique. He frequently resorts to fouling the opposition winger even in unnecessary positions, bailing out an attacker with nowhere to go.
Injuries have been another issue preventing the wingback from fulfilling his potential. He has struggled to make the left-back position his own, never appearing more than 27 times in a single Premier League season. Viewed as the long-term successor to Nacho Monreal when he arrived, Kolasinac never fully unseated the more consistent Spaniard. When the Gunners bought 22-year-old Scottish international Kieran Tierney from Celtic in the summer of 2019 it appeared the writing was on the wall for Kolasinac. But injuries have derailed Tierney’s debut season in North London, opening the door for Kolasinac. He’s failed to make the most of this opportunity through a combination of his own injury struggles and poor performances. 18-year-old Hale End Academy product Bukayo Saka, formerly a left-sided winger, has emerged as Mikel Arteta’s first choice left-back.
Age and high wages will prove to be the final straw in Kolasinac’s time at The Emirates. He’s four and eight years older than Tierney and Saka respectively, and earning far more money. Arsenal could sell him on this summer and see a return on their investment. According to Transfermarkt.com the Bosnian is worth between 15 and 20 million pounds. I don’t think Kolasinac is a bad player, quite the opposite. However, given the system Mikel Arteta prefers and the competition from Tierney and Saka, I think the best move is sell Kolasinac. Arsenal simply aren’t a stable enough defensive unit to carry a player like Kolasinac. We need a more well-rounded fullback. He could be a very successful player in the right system. Perhaps in Serie A, where wingbacks are far more common, Kolasinac could find a permanent home and make the most of his talent.