Laurent Koscielny acting a diva is the unexpected twist Arsenal's summer needed
A model professional for almost the entirety of his nine seasons at the club, Laurent Koscielny has now decided to act the diva. You just love to see it
Waking up as an Arsenal fan these days has an air of crushing familiarity to it. Oh, look, we're still not signing any of the really good, exciting players we are linked to and desperately need. Oh, look, but we have purchased a semi-obscure teenager who won't be featuring in the first team anytime soon. Sigh.
Today it was slightly different. It was even a bit - dare I say - exciting. Arsenal fans arose this morning to the dreaded 'club statement' tweet from the club's Twitter account, complete with corner flag stock imagery. As it read 'on Laurent Koscielny', something fairly innocuous was expected. Maybe he was retiring, maybe the club was releasing him so he could return to France to see out his career. As it happens, it was something far more dramatic than that.
Koscielny, their club captain, is in the twilight of his career and now, after nine seasons of acting the model professional (bar a run of reckless sendings off early into his Gunners tenure), has decided he wants a bit of the action. He wants the drama. He wants the attention.
He has watched enviously, all summer, as the temperamental forward likes of Neymar, Paul Pogba and, er, Marko Arnautovic, have all, to varying degrees of success, tried to convince their clubs to sell them. He wants a piece of that sweet, shithouse behaviour pie.
Laurent Koscielny, previously a beacon of consistency, a model professional and, truth be told, a slightly dull Premier League figure, if only because he's been the one quite good Arsenal defender these last few years, pretty much the only one that could be relied upon to not suddenly evaporate into smoke during a big game, has decided he just can't be arsed with it anymore.
He's not going on their pre-season tour. He's not flying to America. He's not partnering Shkrodan Mustafi at the back against Colorado Rapids away. He's too old for this shit. He's done with it. He's done with Arsenal.
Which is just... fundamentally, unashamedly, Arsenal. How Arsenal is it? Extremely Arsenal, I'm afraid. It's completely and totally Arsenal.
Club statement on Laurent Koscielny
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 11, 2019
The club statement reads: "Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour. We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time."
As you can imagine, Arsenal Football Club are beyond angry with their skipper. Like the mother who has just caught their teenage son having a cigarette out of the bedroom window, they're 'very disappointed'. Uh oh. And even more admonishing than that, they take the time in their statement to explain that his actions went against the club's clear instructions. Which, presumably, were: come on the pre-season tour. Well, you can't get any clearer than that.
Laurent Koscielny has for several weeks been asking Arsenal for a mutual termination agreement so that he can accept 1 of the 3 firm offers he has from Ligue 1. They've so far refused.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) July 11, 2019
Reportedly, Koscielny has chosen not to join the team in the US because Arsenal have refused to agree to a mutual termination of his contract, which would allow him to move to one of the several interested Ligue 1 clubs.
And clearly, having seen the unquantifiable success Neymar and Pogba have had forcing a move (nobody appears to actually want to buy them? Like, at all?), and having watched Arnautovic's repeated antics earn him honestly astronomical leaps up the football ladder, from Stoke City to West Ham all the way to that (Asian) Champions League team he so desperately wanted to play for, the mighty Shanghai SIPG, Koscielny must have felt he had no option but to simply fold his arms, say "Non monsieur" and wait for the shredded remains of his contract in the post.
You have to admit, the timing of it is impeccable. There is literally nothing else going on at the club. The spotlight is now all his. There don't appear to be any new signings on the horizon after the arrival of *checks notes* Gabriel Martinelli from *squints* Ituano and the anticipated move for William Saliba from St Etienne, who will, er, immediately be going back to St Etienne for a year. No other team wants to touch all the deadweight Arsenal are keen on selling, either.
Koscielny, the one player who fans would probably be happiest to see rewarded for his service by being allowed to leave, has been denied that request by the board and is now doing something he has seemingly never done before. He is kicking up a right old fuss. You have to wonder how it could ever come to this, a completely bizarre scenario in which Laurent Koscielny (Laurent Koscielny!) is acting like a superagent-influenced primadonna, but then you must remember that this is no ordinary football club we are talking about here.
You must remember that this is Arsenal, where a nonsense is never far around the corner.