In the week that our skipper commits his future to Arsenal one of columnist pays tribute to the man from Loreint……
LAURENT KOSCIELNY – FROM BOY TO MAN TO WORLD BEATER.
From time immemorial, man has always sought acclaim and praise for performing actions or tasks with class, panache and divergent human abilities. Since the first Olympians battled each other in honor of Zeus, man has always looked to elevate himself above the rest in sporting conquest, for different reasons; wealth, fame, respect, adulation and adoration or some combination of these factors. Some sportsmen earn all these because their abilities are superhuman and are deserving of it (Messi, Ronaldo, Michael Jordan), whilst there are some who despite their immense abilities and contributions, still fall under the radar, they may have found wealth, but adulation and adoration for the way they go about their craft is almost absent, case in point ; Laurent Koscielny.
On 7th July 2010, in the midst of Arsenal’s own “Great Depression,” the most atypical Arsene Wenger signing was completed. From Lorient, of Ligue 1 in France, Arsene found his next ‘unpolished gem. The man who had previously played in the third division of French football with Tours, now found himself in the bright lights of London, suiting up for one of England’s greatest clubs. He was immediately thrown into the trenches, as he began his career with his first league match coming against Liverpool.
If that game was anything to go by, we should have known then that we had quite a precocious talent on our hands. Everything that happened involving Lolo during that game could be used to narrate his time in London. He suffered a heavy tackle at the hands of Joe Cole whose severity caused him to be stretchered off, yet he returned for the second half, alas, a competent performance was marred by two bookable offences in injury time that led to his sending off in his debut premier league game for the club. Fuming at the end of the game, I wondered why Arsene had not splashed the cash for someone more experienced who would have handled the rush of blood to the head Lolo suffered from in the dying embers of that game better.
Since that debut season though, which really was not bad, the quiet young man from the city of Tulle has grown from stride to stride. He has had his downs, but his ups completely drown those, as we have seen before our very eyes a young man from the third division of French football captivate English football, with his footballing intelligence and abilities, and grow into a world-class player up there with the best defenders of this age.
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That is where the problem rises though. Apart from many Arsenal fans, there are many people out there in the world football who do not rate Lolo as the world-class player he is. Central defenders in the Premier league in recent times, who have been rated more highly by some than him include Toby Alderweireld, Virgil Van Dijk, Jan Vertonghen, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill, yet upon stringent reviews of stats this season (see below) and of course Lolo totally outclasses all these candidates. Let us not talk of last season where with either the leaden-footed Mertesacker or the rash Gabriel he marshaled Arsenal along with Petr Cech to the records of joint-most clean sheets in the league and second least goals conceded.
One factor major which may be the cause of the lack of due praise for Koscielny could be the fact that he plays for us, Arsenal. Yeah, that could be a major factor. The club has underperformed for almost over a decade now and Lolo has been present during about half of this period. Despite his excellent performances and abilities, commentary on Arsenal’s poor performances and lack of trophies drown out talk of any other matter. The fact that we have been so poor over years whilst fielding players who in the first half of Arsene’s reign would not get close to the team (ahem Andre Santos) paints everyone connected to Arsenal in bad light, and the Vice-captain is bound to be affected by this reasoning.
With all due respect, to the players named above, none of them is on the same level for me, as the quasi-captain of Arsenal football club. Despite his quiet and calm mannerisms, Lolo currently is head and shoulders above any defender in the Premier League. The lack of a Premier League medal does not soil this fact, it just shows how good he actually is, rising above everyone else in his field in the division, despite playing alongside partners of lower standards through no fault of his.
It is human nature to praise people when they are either retired from their field or when they have met their demise. But for those of us who watch Laurent Koscielny go about his business every weekend with almost no fuss, we know we have a rare quality gem on our hands, fully polished, indestructible and capable of going toe to toe against the best players in world football, quietly and calmly and will give him all the praise he deserved, as he’s the closest thing we have had in ages, to Mr. Arsenal who made the number 6 shirt famous.