James Forrest Says Kieran Tierney Has 'Coped Well' Amid Arsenal Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2019

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 19: Kieran Tierney of Celtic with the League Trophy during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian FC at Celtic Park on May 19, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Kieran Tierney's Celtic team-mates want the left-back to resist ongoing links to Arsenal and stay in Glasgow, according to winger James Forrest.

The Scotland international applauded the way Tierney has conducted himself while the Gunners transfer rumours have intensified, per Jake Polden of the Daily Mirror:

"Ask anyone in our dressing room, we all want KT to still be here. He's been a great player for us and everyone is hoping that come Friday he is still here. We want him to get back playing for us. He came with us for pre-season and we still see him at training every day.

"But considering how long the talk about Arsenal has gone on, I think he's handled it really well. KT is still only 22, so he's coped well. Every day there seems to be something new in the story. But he's just keeping himself to himself and working hard. That's credit to him."

Tierney has spent most of this summer's transfer window drawing interest from north London. Celtic have knocked back a pair of bids, with the last offer thought to be worth as much as £25 million.

Despite the Hoops' reticence to let Tierney go, Arsenal remain keen to acquire the 22-year-old:

David Ornstein @bbcsport_david

Fee agreed between Arsenal & Bordeaux for Laurent Koscielny is up to €5m max. Medical as we speak, contract needs finalising. #AFC hope to sign a centre-back + retain Kieran Tierney interest despite injury. Carl Jenkinson to Nottingham Forest talks advanced #FCGB #CelticFC #NFFC

Arsenal's chances of finally getting a deal over the line may have been boosted by Celtic showing interest in Brentford's Rico Henry as a possible replacement worth £7 million, per The Sun's Alan Nixon.

Celtic's need for an alternative to Tierney may not necessarily be about Arsenal, though. The full-back has been dealing with a hip injury, according to his manager Neil Lennon, who recently told Sky Sports (h/t Tom Doyle of the London Evening Standard): "Kieran started kicking a ball on Wednesday, but he's still feeling some discomfort there."

When fully fit, there is no doubt Tierney would represent a significant upgrade on Arsenal's incumbent left-backs Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac. The latter is a useful attacking outlet, combining pace and power going forward, but his final ball is inconsistent, while his positional sense in defensive areas remains suspect.

Meanwhile, Monreal lacks the athleticism to press high and recover quickly defensively the way head coach Unai Emery wants. Monreal is now 33 and perhaps better suited as a centre-back in a three-man defence.

By contrast, Tierney is dynamic enough to make Emery's pressing tactics work. He has the engine to raid forward at will, as well as the instincts and recovery pace to make sure the Gunners aren't caught on the break quite so often.

Tierney has been showcasing his complete game on both the domestic and European stages in recent seasons:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Kieran Tierney in the Europa League last season: Apps -- 6⃣ Shots -- 3⃣ Goals -- 1⃣ Key passes -- 1⃣0⃣ Accurate crosses -- 6⃣ Tackles -- 1⃣0⃣ Interceptions -- 1⃣3⃣ Rating -- 7⃣.1⃣3⃣ For more player stats -- https://t.co/E3X4UEtC4a https://t.co/ShDt806jee

Pairing Tierney with Hector Bellerin, once the Spaniard has returned to full fitness, would give Arsenal a buccaneering and multipurpose full-back duo most teams in Europe would envy.

Wrapping up a deal by Thursday won't be easy, though, especially with the Gunners still needing to add a quality central defender:

If Arsenal can complete the signing of Tierney before the transfer deadline on Thursday, it would represent excellent business after the club-record deal for winger Nicolas Pepe.