In a season marked by a slew of injuries that ultimately cost Arsenal a shot at the title, one major positive all season long was the play of the central-defense pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. On Friday, the club announced the former player had extended his contract with the club.
Per Arsenal's official website: "Laurent Koscielny has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal Football Club. The 28-year-old has continued his excellent partnership with Per Mertesacker in central defence this term, helping the team to 15 clean sheets in his 31 Premier League appearances in 2013/14."
According to that report, he becomes the eighth player to re-sign with the Gunners this season, joining Santi Cazorla, Serge Gnabry, Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky,Wojciech Szczesny and Gedion Zelalem.
Both Arsene Wenger and Koscielny commented after the signing:
Manager Arsene Wenger said: "Laurent has proven himself to be an outstanding player since joining us in 2010 and has showed his quality once again this season. I am delighted he has decided to commit his future to the Club."
Laurent said: "I am very proud to have reached agreement with the Club on a new contract. I have enjoyed four great years at Arsenal already, and I look forward to continuing to help the team in the years to come."
Koscielny likely would have become a popular target around Europe had he not made his intention very clear to remain with the Gunners, so this was an important move for Arsenal. With the possibility of Bacary Sagna signing elsewhere this summer, having teams sniff around Koscielny could have left Arsenal's back line very unsettled heading into next season.
Koscielny has been excellent for Arsenal this season, earning a 7.34 average match rating from WhoScored in Premier League play. That mark ties him for sixth among Premier League defenders behind Martin Skrtel (7.47), Mathieu Debuchy (7.44), Curtis Davies (7.43), Martin Demichelis (7.39) and Seamus Coleman (7.35), while tying him with Dejan Lovren.
He's also been quite reliable moving the ball forward, according to Squawka Football:
Laurent Koscielny hasn't misplaced a pass in the Premier League since the 84th min vs. Hull (196 minutes of action). pic.twitter.com/f2p3XyeXVt— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 9, 2014
While Arsenal's final game of the Premier League season is meaningless, they will be looking to end their trophy drought in the FA Cup final against Hull City. Koscielny will play a major role in that pursuit, and he should be quite a happy camper heading into that contest after this news today.
And next year, he'll be a major pillar in Arsenal's pursuit of a Premier League title. Should the Gunners add a few pieces over the summer and stay healthy next year, they'll certainly be in contention, and the reliable Koscielny will be a huge reason why.