Laurent Koscielny Talks Decision to Leave Arsenal After Bordeaux Transfer

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2019

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Laurent Koscielny has described his nine years at Arsenal as "wonderful years" after sealing a controversial transfer to Bordeaux on Tuesday.

Koscielny, who refused to travel on the Gunners' preseason tour of the USA to force a return to France, said his exit from Arsenal had "been discussed for months."

The centre-back posted a message on Instagram (h/t Football.London's Phil Spencer) after officially becoming a Bordeaux player:

"As you know I engaged with @Girondins. After 9 years spent at Arsenal, I took the decision to leave. I have spent wonderful years with this club, nine years during which I learned, evolved, grew up.

"This experience made me the player I am today. My decision to leave has been discussed for months with my club, my teammates, my coach and it has been a well thought decision.

"I see this departure like a new turning point in my life as a player but also in in my life as a man and a family man. However I hope you understand, and in any case i cannot be thankful enough for these years past at Arsenal.

"I am aware of everything that the club and you supporters have brought to me. But it is time for me to go home so today my will is to join the @Girondins. This is a new challenge that I count on taking with determination."

Earlier in the day, BBC Sport's David Ornstein confirmed Koscielny had been sold to Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux for €5 million (£4.6 million).

The deal brought to an end what proved a bitter split between Arsenal and the player who moved to north London from FC Lorient back in 2010. Koscielny opted not to travel to the U.S. last month, amid a dispute over negotiations for a contract extension, with Ornstein noting how the 33-year-old felt his years of service ought to have been rewarded with a free transfer to smooth the way for rejoining the French top flight.

This episode soured Koscielny in the eyes of some Arsenal supporters, with certain social media users even branding the veteran defender "disrespectful" for lifting off his Arsenal shirt to reveal a Bordeaux kit during his new club's unveiling video, per John Hutchinson of The Sun.

Girondins English @girondins_en

Laurent looks great in our new kit. Will you? https://t.co/LMEZ0aRMe5

While his time at the Emirates Stadium may have ended on a down note, Koscielny's Arsenal career still had its moments. Those included winning a trio of FA Cups and lifting the FA Community Shield on three occasions.

Koscielny also developed a knack for clutch goals. He scored the winner to beat West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the 2011/12 season and repeated the trick against Newcastle United a year later.

On both occasions, the Frenchman's goal proved enough to secure UEFA Champions League qualification for the Gunners. Arsenal haven't participated in Europe's elite club tournament in the last two seasons, but Koscielny has remained a useful member of an often suspect defence.

Arsenal @Arsenal

🗓9️⃣ years 🔴3️⃣5️⃣3️⃣ appearances 🏆3️⃣ FA Cups Bonne chance in France, @6_LKOSCIELNY https://t.co/U3nAHCx9fO

He recovered from a ruptured Achilles suffered against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Europa League semi-final in 2018 to become a dependable presence for head coach Unai Emery last season.

Koscielny moving on only compounds Emery's need to recruit a centre-back before the summer transfer window shuts on Thursday. Emery has to improve a unit that's conceded 51 goals in each of the last two Premier League campaigns.

Arsenal's late dash for defensive help has prompted links to RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano and a possible loan move for Daniele Rugani of Juventus:

Kieran Gill @kierangill_DM

Arsenal have had a first bid worth up to £55m for centre back Dayot Upamecano rejected by RB Leipzig, who want Emile Smith Rowe included in the deal. Talks continuing today. Story on @MailSport soon

footballitalia @footballitalia

#Arsenal have reportedly agreed personal terms with Daniele Rugani, as #Juventus could accept a loan with obligation to buy, claim Sportitalia https://t.co/2TfaEbe2kP #AFC #wwfc #Wolves https://t.co/JuJAC33HYR

Koscielny may have left under a cloud, but the player plucked from relative obscurity for a reported £10 million remains one of the last creditable bargain buys of Emery's predecessor Arsene Wenger.

He was also arguably still the best defender on Arsenal's books and a player the Gunners must find a way to replace in the next few days.