While Arsenal look to add talented pieces to the squad this summer, it will be just as important to make sure the players already on the roster do not go elsewhere.
The current focus from fans appears to be the incoming transfer of Gonzalo Higuain. David Hytner of the Guardian reported that Arsene Wenger is prepared to make a club-record bid for the forward, and it seems likely that a transfer will be completed at some point soon.
This moves will likely fortify the offense to create one of the best attacks in the English Premier League. However, it is important not to forget that the defense was a big reason that Arsenal were able earn a top-four finish this year.
In league play, only Manchester City allowed fewer goals during year than the Gunners. The solid play of the back line helped keep things steady as the relatively inexperienced forwards got acclimated to the EPL.
One of the biggest contributors of the defense was Laurent Koscielny, who started 20 matches in the Premier League, plus five more in the UEFA Champions League.
He also helped on the offensive end at times with four goals on the year, including this one against Newcastle:
Of course, the solid performance of the 27-year-old player did not go unnoticed. ESPN FC reports that the defender is a target for two of the top clubs in the world:
Although Koscielny has four years remaining on his current contract, he has warned that he is willing to leave for a better squad, according to Paul Collins of the Daily Mail:
I want to lift trophies and to have a winning record. I hope the club will give me the means. If this weren’t the case, I’d look elsewhere. I want to win titles and I hope the club have the means.
I feel good at Arsenal and if the club [can] compete with the best, I have no reason to leave. But if it fights every year for Champions League qualification it’s hard psychologically to be under such constant pressure.
With Barcelona or Bayern Munich, he certainly would not struggle to qualify for the UCL. Both squads are almost permanent fixtures in the contest and are contenders for the title virtually every year.
Still, Arsenal have the pieces in place to once again be at that level as well. In a down year with young players, they still were able to do well in the EPL while reaching the knockout stage of Champions League.
It is clear the future is bright, as long as they keep the right players in place.
ESPN's Dermot Corrigan reported that the club could get around £15 million for the player in a transfer. However, it would be more important to keep him around to compete in the future.
If Arsenal want to compete at a high level over the next few years, it will need an elite defense to stop the opposing attacks of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, as well as that of Barcelona, Real Madrid and more.
Koscielny has the agility and intelligence to stick with the better players around the world and do his best to keep them off the scoreboard.
It would be wise for the club's hierarchy to do what is necessary to keep the talented player on the roster.
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