“Here we go again” will be the phrase on Arsenal lips after news has emerged that another of their top players is being given the old mince-pies by the continent’s footballing elite. This time it’s Laurent Koscielny, whose agent Stephane Courbois told Eurosport France the centre-half is part of “a shortlist of three or four players” for Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Barca have Emirates-raiding form stretching back well into the previous decade too, with a rap-sheet including Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Sylvinho, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song all swapping North London for Catalunya.
Koscielny had previously fuelled speculation by suggesting that he would need to consider moving if the Gunners failed to match his trophy-winning ambitions in the transfer market. However his agent has admitted he has yet to receive any contact from Barca over the player.
The Frenchman – signed for £8.5m from French club Lorient in 2010 – enjoyed arguably his finest spell in a red shirt in the final months of the 2012/13 campaign, forming a redoubtable partnership with Per Mertesacker and once more demonstrated his knack for scoring vital goals with the strike that earned his club Champions League football for next season in the final-day clash with Newcastle.
In the past Koscielny has curried favour with the Arsenal support with his penchant for big tackles and last ditch blocks, but with this full-blooded approach has come some draw-backs. There has been the sense at times that his decision making and positional play have not always been of the highest order during his spell under Arsene Wenger’s wing.
Whilst his link-up with Mertersacker at the heart of the Gunners’ backline – and the defensive assurance it provided – underpinned their remarkable late season form, it is perhaps too little evidence to safely say that the Frenchman has matured into a definitively top-rate centre-half.
This news will have ramifications for two other Premier League centre-halves with Gunners’ target Ashley Williams evens to be plying his trade at the Emirates at the close of the transfer window.
One man who could have cause to be thankful for speculation about his teammates possible departure is deposed Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian is now 4/6 to remain with the club, having seemed set leave after falling down the pecking order over the course of the last campaign.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.