12 January 2017

Arsenal sign three key Frenchmen to bolster title-tilt!

With the January transfer window now open, and with Arsenal's hopes in the Prem, FA Cup and Champions League each suffering to varying degrees, it should come as some consolation that Arsène has seen fit to loosen the purse-strings ever so slightly to shore up the squad. The signings of three vital French players, long a hallmark of Arsène's transfer policy and priority, may not strengthen the squad per se but should at least solidify it for the near-future. I'm referring of course to the new contracts signed by Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, and Laurent Koscielny.

Koscielny and Giroud have re-upped until 2020, while le Coq had done so until 2021. Early reports suggest that none of the players' weekly wages cross the six-figure threshold, with Giroud drawing £90k weekly, Kos drawing £80k, and le Coq £75k.

For Giroud and Kos, these likely represent their last major contracts as each will be in his mid-thirties. The only valid interpretation here is that each man has come to love his time with the club and wants to see out his career here. Especially Koscielny. the man has quietly become one of the Prem's best centre-backs and could probably demand a higher wage-packet here or elsewhere, but it seems that he's decided to settle down right here. More on that in a moment.

Arsène, speaking of the new contracts, had this to say:
We are very pleased that three important members of our team have committed to us for the long term. Francis has made tremendous technical strides over the past few years because he's so focused every day. Olivier has big experience in the game now and has become a more and more complete player since joining us. Laurent is of course a key part of our squad and I believe one of the best defenders in the world today.
Well-said. While the jury may still be out on Giroud and on Coquelin, there's one issue on which all sane Gooners (and others) should agree: Kos is, as Arsène puts it, "one of the best defenders in the world today." He probably could have found a more-lucrative contract elsewhere, somewhere cushier where so much less depended on him, but he's decided to stay here.

I know that I'm all too often guilty of waxing rhapsodic regarding the virtues of playing for Arsenal under Arsène, but here's at least on case where the evidence is pretty clear. Kos was plucked up out of obscurity from Lorient in 2010 at a transfer-fee of some £11m, and he's not only been a bedrock in defense; he's also delivered crucial goals at crucial moments in both the Prem and FA Cup. For him to commit his future to Arsenal is, therefore, significant if not symbolic. Here, for those harbouring doubts, is the man at his best:

Kos almost certainly could have found a more-lucrative contract elsewhere. He almost certainly could have signed with a club that could all but guarantee some top-shelf silverware—a league title or the Champions League—but here, in the sunset of his career, he's committed to Arsenal. That's got to count for something, even more so in a world in which money talks.

He didn't walk.