Arsenal have announced their first signing of the summer, with left-back Sead Kolasinac arriving on a free transfer from Schalke.
The 23-year-old had previously been linked with several of the Premier League’s top clubs, including Chelsea and Liverpool, although interest from the rest seemed to have cooled by the time Arsenal joined the fray, the Gunners facing little competition for his signature.
What exactly are Arsenal going to get from their new signing?
Kolasinac is predominantly a left-back, although he can also play as a central defender or in midfield, both centrally and out wide on the left.
He played at centre-back and as a defensive midfielder for Schalke’s reserve team before being moved to left-back early in his senior career.
The left-back is first and foremost a defender who defends, marking him out in contrast to the other full-backs in Arsenal’s squad.
He’s known for his strength and physicality, but is also deceptively quick, making him an all-around tough proposition for opposing wingers.
His gritty, aggressive play and his work rate will endear him to Arsenal fans.
He’s also improved his attacking play over the last season, with his marauding runs down the left becoming a staple of Schalke’s attack, as well as his impressive crossing ability.
Although he’s only 23, Kolasinac has been a first-team regular since 2012, so he has five seasons of playing at the highest level under his belt.
He’s played in the Champions League for Schalke as well.
Kolasinac seems like a natural fit at left wing-back in Arsene Wenger’s new 3-4-2-1 formation, but he could also deputise on the left of the back three when needed.
His arrival likely marks the end of Kieran Gibbs’ Arsenal career, which never really took off despite initial promise.
Kolasinac will compete for a starting berth with Nacho Monreal, who has looked a little more secure ever since Wenger’s switch to back three, but is still the most vulnerable of Arsenal’s defenders to a challenge from a different player.
Sead Kolasinac: No defender registered more assists than Kolasinac (5) in the Bundesliga last season #AFC pic.twitter.com/vkj5B5BSUq— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 6, 2017
The Bosnian’s tackling ability and his no-nonsense are definite strengths, and are likely what caught Arsene Wenger’s eye.
He’s superb in one-on-one situations with opposition wingers and he’s also clever with his tackling and positioning.
Kolasinac has been a consistent performer for Schalke, and hopefully he’ll be to bring that to the Premier League.
His attacking play will need further improvement if he’s going to play as a wing-back.
The 3-4-2-1 formation dictates that the full-backs attack as well as defend, and while Kolasinac has made great strides in this area, he’ll need to do even better if he wants to hold down a starting place at Arsenal.