We know all about Matic to Manchester United, Walker to Manchester City (for £45 million—the figure remains baffling), and Morata’s arrival at Stamford Bridge. Much has also been made of Everton’s £140+ million splurge; the Rooney-Lukaku switcheroo; and Arsene Wenger’s concession to finally splashing out on a new centre forward in the form of Alexandre Lacazette.
There were over 200 new arrivals to the Premier League this summer, and over £1.4 billion spent. Many of the new faces will make themselves heroes for their new clubs over the course of the season, and perhaps yet more will become villains, flops, and laughing stocks before the end.
In amongst the huge volumes of deals conducted during this record busting summer—that saw inflation surge to ludicrous levels (again…Walker)—some clubs have managed to get themselves some great bargains.
And within this criteria falls Sead Kolasinac’s free transfer from Schalke 04 to Arsenal.
A long standing criticism of the Gunners is that they have a tendency to be a bit lightweight. Well, the first thing you have to say about Kolasinac, just based on pure sight, is that lightweight he isn’t. In fact, within days of his arrival at the Arsenal training centre at London Colney, Theo Walcott was extolling his new teammate’s physical virtues, exclaiming that “Sead looks an absolute tank.” Kolasinac’s physicality should prove a huge boost to the Arsenal backline in ensuring that they aren’t too easily bullied and jostled by more aggressive oppositions.
His versatility is also another bonus for a side that tactically feels somewhat undecided—between reverting to the traditional back four that passed unchallenged for the entirety of Wenger’s reign up until a few months ago, or persevering with the back five system that helped steady the ship at the end of last season. Kolasinac is able to operate down the left hand side as a wing back, full back, and can even be called upon to deputise at centre-back should the need arise.
For those on the terraces, however, the most exciting aspect of the Bosnian’s game is what he brings to Arsenal’s attack. His power, speed and bullishness often sees him pass by—or through—his opponents. He is not short of end product either, as his viciously lashed volley to level the score against FC Koln can attest to. The 24-year old is also selfless, and has already been the provider of two Premier League assists this season for Arsenal. The potential of him linking up with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez is a tantalising prospect.
His strong showing against Chelsea may have been his first test against one of the Premier League’s more stellar attacks—with Oxlade-Chamberlain having been inexplicably preferred for the left wingback role in the Liverpool mauling—but with what they have seen of their new man already, the Arsenal faithful expect to see him rise to the challenge of English football.
With all this taken into account, and given the player’s relative youth and the complete absence of a transfer fee, Arsenal’s capture of Sead Kolasinac looks set to go down as one of the great bargains of the summer transfer window just past. Considering the new man signed a contract that will keep him playing his football at the Emirates until 2022, the Arsenal supporters can look forward to seeing the Bosnia-Herzegovina international bombing down the flanks for many seasons to come.