As a variety of news sources reported Arsenal’s capture of Schalke full-back Sead Kolasinac, it seems as if it was all they needed to dispel the gloom and pessimism that currently hovers around the struggling club from the English capital. Journalists as reliable as Gianluca di Marzio and Fabrizio Romano came up with tweets confirming the same, forcing many into flashing a wry smile at the state of the club, that could well be making this signing to appease those who have been open about revolting against Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Arsenal’s performances, especially after the turn of the year, have plummeted to such an extent that people seem to enjoy watching Arsenal Fan TV more than the Gunners’ games. There’s been an evident lack of character, hunger and desire among the current crop of Arsenal players and fans have made it clear that they don’t demand for a team that wins, but for a team puts up a proper fights. The 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace suggested that while Arsene Wenger has to take the blame for the recent failures, one has to blame the players just as much as the ailing boss for the current situation. The deficiency in terms of characters who can lift the squad and lead them by example when things aren’t going well is something Arsenal are in dire needs of, as things stand. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez may be world-class talents, but their abilities to lead the stuttering side have been questioned and criticized, with many attacking the German’s ability to do the dirty work on the pitch.
Kolasinac, 23, currently plays for a side that was disparaged for its own lack of commitment and drive to win games, when the season began. The Royal Blues’ form has improved since their emphatic 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach at the Veltins Arena in October, but Markus Weinzerl’s men had lost all of their opening five games of the season. Schalke players barely showed any desire to win games and failed to display any amount of commitment during this period. This was the period when Kolasinac’s hunger to work his socks off for the team came forth. Apart from standing out from the bunch, the Bosnian full-back showed that he has the capacity to work hard for a flailing unit.
The shift to playing a three at the back formation more often saw Kolasinac play in a more attacking role than he would have in a flat four. He had the license to bomb forward with pace, trademark drive and the position matches his ability to track back and defend. He has the engine and the work-ethic to run throughout the game, making him perfect for a wing-back role, if not just the left-back role.
The Bosnian fell short of consistency last season, as Christian Fuchs’ exit to Leicester City had handed him a first choice role at left-back. It’s this season that he has flourished very well and the season ending injury sustained by Chelsea loanee Baba Rahman has aided him in getting a run of games under his belt. He has been a vital cog in Schalke’s climb back towards the top-half of the table, scoring thrice and assisting five times in 21 appearances for the club from Gelsenkirchen. His contributions though, go far beyond the goals and assists that he provides.
The 23-year-old oozes trademark Central European physicality and strength too, allowing him to play in the central midfield and at centre-back too, when the need arises. His physique has allowed him to 3.6 interceptions per game in the Bundesliga, third only to Thiago Alcantara and Augsburg’s Robert Bauer, who are already central midfield players by trade. In terms of tackles, Kolasinac has won 2.9 of them per game, which is very good for any player at the top level.
Born in the German city of Kalsruhe to Bosniak parents, Kolasinac opted to play for his parents’ homeland and took part in the FIFA World Cup of 2014. He has, till date, made 18 appearances for the country and is a prominent of the side too.
Kolasinac’s ability to adapt easily to his surroundings and circumstances is something that is an important part of his skill-set. He managed to make an instant impact at the Schalke II side, after having joined from Stuttgart in 2012 and began playing for the Royal Blues’ second side in the Regionalliga West just a season after he made the move. He took rapid strides in that side too, catching the attention of then managed Hubb Stevens, who handed a debut to him in 2012 itself. It’s been a story of acclimatising to new surroundings very quickly for the full-back and adapting to the Premier League won’t be too daunting a task for him too, considering the kind of a player he is. The manner in which he bounced back from a serious knee injury that he sustained in 2014 is commendable enough, although Fuchs’ departure played a role in how he flourished in the 2015-15 campaign.
With Arsenal in need of an exodus this summer, the Gunners would need players with resolve similar to that of Kolasinac, if they want to tide over the transition period in a smooth fashion. Irrespective of whether Arsene Wenger stays or leaves, Kolasinac is one type of player who every manager would like to have in his team. And for a club like Arsenal, who always seem to suffer from a lack of urgency and willingness, he can act as someone to look upto. He isn’t someone who always wins, but is someone who knows how to put up a stiff fight.