What to make of Sead Kolasinac?
When Arsenal first brought him in on that Bosman deal, it was widely regarded as a real coup. Manchester City, among others, were interested in his signature, with plenty keen on bringing in this absolute tank of a human being.
The Bosnia-Herzegovina international would eventually be Arsene Wenger’s first signing of the 2017 summer window, and it’s fair to say the majority were pretty chuffed.
With Schalke 04 in the previous campaign he was voted the best left-back in the division, earning his place in the Bundesliga Team of the Season. At a packed Wembley for the Community Shield clash with Chelsea he made his debut for Arsenal, and scored.
For most of that season he lived up to his billing of being a bulldozer down the left flank. A marauding steel steam train that required a well-timed trip or two men sliding in to halt him in his tracks.
Unfortunately, as form across the team dipped, Kolasinac followed suit, and the coming seasons were well below the level we’d previously expected. It must be added, too, that the injuries he suffered significantly derailed his progress. In August of 2018, a knee injury ruled him out for two months, and with other knocks following, the setback in February this year saw him well and truly thrust into the periphery.
Kieran Tierney, whether it’s at left centre-back or left wing-back, is one of the first names on the Arsenal teamsheet and won’t be surrendering his place. Just like Hector Bellerin at right-back or right wing-back, he won’t either.
Kolasinac has stamina and industry to his name, but he falls hopelessly short when it comes to quality on the ball and rational thinking. He does, however, have the occasional decent display which is all he’ll be presented with now his move to Bayer Leverkusen has fallen through.
It’ll be nothing but a backup role for the 27-year-old, but he should now take a leaf out of Cedric Soares’ book. The Portuguese defender was a peculiar arrival on a four-year deal, but has proven himself to be a more than adequate second option behind Bellerin.
Consistency will be key for Kolasinac for the coming season – or potentially until January – but ensuring he can maintain an acceptable enough level of performance like Cedric is all the can hope for. A left-sided Cedric wouldn’t go amiss.