X

Stephan Lichtsteiner Says He Will Retire If He Can't Compete at Highest Level

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2018

Switzerland's defender Stephan Lichtsteiner takes part in a press conference at the King Power stadium in Leicester, central England on September 10, 2018 on the eve of their friendly international match against England. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Arsenal defender Stephan Lichtsteiner says he will retire from the game if he doesn't think he can perform at the top level anymore. 

The Switzerland international moved from Juventus to Arsenal this summer although so far in 2018-19 he's made just one substitute appearance for the Gunners, with Hector Bellerin first choice under new manager Unai Emery.

Speaking about life at his new club, Lichtsteiner said he will be ruthless when considering his future in the game, per Sportal (h/t Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror).

"I was looking for a demanding challenge in a new league," he said. "That is why I knew I had to fight for a regular spot against Hector Bellerin. For me, stepping down has never been up for debate. If I have to admit that I can not keep the level of the last few years, then it is time. But then I will not only resign from the Swiss national team but finish my career."

Now 34, Lichtsteiner is in the twilight of his career.

He spent seven years at Juventus before leaving in the summer. During that time he won the Serie A title on seven occasions, as well as four Coppa Italia prizes. Lichtsteiner has also turned out 103 times for Switzerland ahead of their friendly with England on Tuesday, a haul of caps only bettered by two men.

Despite his advancing years, Lichtsteiner has said he still feels in good condition, as relayed by Standard Sport:

Standard Sport @standardsport

Arsenal's Stephan Lichtsteiner claims he has the physicality of a 28-year-old... But he's a lot nearer 29 than he is 28 https://t.co/25SwHUzy5V

While it's anticipated the Swiss will feature in cup competitions for Arsenal—they've yet to get their League Cup or UEFA Europa League campaigns under way—at the moment Bellerin is in the Arsenal team on merit.

Some Gunners players have struggled to adapt to the new principles put in place by Emery, but the Spaniard seems to be relishing the new methods. The 23-year-old has been a huge threat when venturing forward on the right flank.

While there are still some concerns about his defensive play, the way Arsenal have operated has left Bellerin easy to attack at times, as noted by Gunnerblog

gunnerblog @gunnerblog

Dreadful ball from Xhaka but look how isolated Bellerin is. It happens time and time again.

Lichtsteiner will surely have a big role to play for Arsenal in the cup competitions, something Emery has traditionally excelled in during his years as a coach.

Despite his age, last season the Swiss showed he could still get up and down the flank, providing an excellent outlet on the right side for one of the best teams in Europe. There's no reason why he can't do the same for Arsenal after getting some football under his belt again.

And if he can showcase quality and experience in the cup competitions, Bellerin will face a big fight to keep hold of his starting spot. It's this type of depth that's needed throughout Arsenal's squad if they're to push for a top-four spot come the end of the campaign.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.