Written by Albin Mouton
On Tuesday, Arsenal made official the arrival of the first summer signing: Sead Kolasinac.
Moving on a free transfer after being spotted at Schalke 04, the Bosnian international will start training with the first team at the beginning of July.
Unless you follow the Bundesliga, you probably don’t know who Kolasinac is or what to expect from him on the pitch.
The first of many this summer?
At the age of 23 (turning 24 on June 20), Kolasinac has already played for Hoffenheim and Stuttgart, before moving to Schalke 04 at the age of 18.
Since the 2012/2013 campaign, he has been a first team starter and before switching to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2013, was a strong part of the German international U-18/19/20 teams.
He even made it to the Bundesliga 2016/2017 team of the year as a left back. A solid performance when you know there is a certain David Alaba in competition for that honour.
After returning from a knee ligament rupture between August 2014 and February 2015, 'The Bosnian Hulk' came back stronger and more determined. On his first Arsenal interview, he said that his main strength is his mentality. Also called “The Tank” and “The Destroyer”, Kolasinac can rely on his physical strengths to be a solid defender.
What’s his style of play like?
For us to get a better view of what to expect from Sead Kolasinac on the pitch, let’s compare him to Nacho Monreal and what’s best in Europe at the moment when it comes to left-backs.
First, check out his let’s defensive statistics in this chart (courtesy of Squawka).
As you can see, Kolasinac is a defender who wins his duels. Thanks to his physical abilities, he is able to win at least two tackles and 55.7% of his aerial duels per game.
Just like his crucial tackle against Dortmund, where he prevented Christian Pulisic scoring a tap-in, he is the kind of player that never quits.
Beyond that, the defender seems to also be a bit like Granit Xhaka on the pitch. He plays with great passion and he has a habit of committing too many fouls (38 in 25 games in the Bundesliga).
Also, with at least three interceptions per game, Kolasinac is not only physical, he is also a clever defender that uses his brain to help his team. He anticipates what his opponents are going to do to prevent attacks.
But as a left-back, Kolasinac is not afraid to go forward. With five assists in the Bundesliga this season, more than any other defender, it is not rare to see him sprint up the left-hand side of the pitch to deliver crucial passes.
As this chart shows, Sead Kolasinac can provide the Arsenal attack in many more ways than Nacho Monreal. He also scored three league goals last season, which is three more than the Spaniard.
How Wenger will use him?
Assuming the Frenchman is going to keep using the 3-4-3 next season - which appeared to be quite successful after the switch from the 4-2-3-1 - Kolasinac will have the left-hand side for himself.
His arrival could lead Monreal to become the third centre back, alongside Laurent Koscielny and Shkrodan Mustafi. The Bosnian could then use his defensive and attacking skills to create chances by going up and down the pitch.
“I can play as part of a three at the back or further forward. I’m really flexible,” he said in his first Arsenal interview.
If Arsene Wenger comes back to the 4-2-3-1 system, the Bosnian will obviously fight his spot against Monreal. But that could be a good thing because of Nacho’s age.
In fact, Arsene Wenger could rest the Spaniard more often and give time to the Bosnian to adjust to the Premier League.
For a first signing this summer, Arsene Wenger proves once again that he’s still got the eye to spot talent without spending a tremendous amount of money.
Other clubs like Manchester City or Milan were interested in him, which means he isn’t coming from nowhere.
Like Granit Xhaka in 2016, this signing is a signal sent that Arsenal will be active during the transfer window. And with a bid reportedly made for Alexandre Lacazette, Arsene Wenger seems ready to please Arsenal fans.
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