Layvin Kurzawa to the Arsenal : good shout or bad move ?
The 28 year old French player is more and more depicted as a real target for the Gunners, with some media suggesting a 5 year deal has been virtually agreed.. With the club, looking to move on Sead Kolasinac during the summer, the North London will certainly be seeking competition at left back. With Kurzawa reaching his last year of contract, and Arsenal financial concerns, the PSG player sounds a perfect cheap deal. But is Kurzawa worth a Bookies Betting offers punt, even for free ? The question should be asked with regard to his overall performance on (and off) the pitch.
It seems quite obvious now Arsenal and Arteta are trying hard to upgrade and rejuvenate the back line. With William Saliba’s early deal first, then with the inclusion of two defenders (Mari and Soares) : two center-backs and a right-back, which has left the left flank in question. With both Tierney and Kolisinac injured Arsenal have had to resort to playing Saka in the role. Whist the youngster has risen to the challenge admirably, he is not a defender by mindset.
In that context, the name of Layvin Kurzawa came on the table in December, in what, on the face of it seems sensible target : like Soares, Kurzawa’s present deal expires in June. He’s also a natural left foot, with a good speed, a decent cross ratio and a bunch of silverware under his belt : 3 French League titles, 3 French Cups, 3 French League Cups and 4 French Supercups. And last but not least, his agent is the famous Kya Joorabchian, a well-known figure for the Arsenal fans, who played a recent key-role in the Gunners transfer market. It appears the green light is on and it seems almost impossible that anything could go wrong.
But as usual, the gap between the picture and the reality is wider than expected. And to be fair, on that point, the case of Layvin Kurzawa is an interesting one – regarding the perception of the reality of a player’s performances.
When he arrived at PSG, Kurzawa was seen as a promising player, after a interesting career debut in Monaco, and also a regular French U19 starter. Asking a Monaco fan about him I initially got a lot of positive memories about ‘a player with all the attributes of a modern left back during his first season under Ranieri’. However on the flip side, I also got this recollection of a player who ‘declined very quickly after several injuries’. In the end,’selling him to PSG was a very good move’ that fan reckons.
So perhaps it is not so surprising that, after a first good season and a League title with PSG, his performances started to slowly decrease, which is evidenced by his stats :
Cross ratio : from 29% in 15/16 to 19% in 19/20
Successfull take-ons : from 62 % in 15/16 to 40% in 19/20
Aerial duels won ; from 66% in 15/16 to 52% in 19/20
He also lost his first team spot, with an average min per game of 80 in his first season to 64 in 19/20 (53 in 18/19), with Juan Bernat now seen as serious contender for the spot. In fairness, injuries have set Kurzawa back as well.
It has ultimately been the same story with the National Team, where Didier Deschamps kept him in the squad but rarely used him. Clearly not seen as a starter, Kurzawa did not take part of Euro 2016 in France. Against all odds, he had another shot during the World Cup qualification campaign but another injury (knee) took him out of the French group. Despite two games in November 17 against Wales and Germany, Deschamps left him out to take Mendy and Hernandez. Interestingly, the French gaffer was more inclined to take an injured Mendy than a fully fit Kurzawa.
On another point, the incredible path of the talented Lucas Hernandez shows how Kurzawa lost his way on the start of his career. As one of the most (if not the most) talented left back in Europe, Lucas Hernandez was considered the same way Layvin Kurzawa was in his time : a modern, bombing forward, left back with an incredible cross ability. Difference is Kurzawa failed to increase his level to a world-class player, or even to improve, despite being part of one of the best teams in Europe.
I watched several PSG games this season, including CL qualifier, Cup games and top French league clash with Lyon and Lille. Kurzawa barely played in those games, and when he did, he was average. Not clever in his positioning, unable to use his speed or to win a challenge like when he was trashed by a lower-league Lorient side in French Cup. He was also inefficient during the first game between PSG and Dortmund, where he played as a left winger due to a strange tactical choice (PSG played in 3-5-2). And he was one of the worst players of the Cup Semi-Final won by his side against Lyon early in March.
Having said all that,it won’t surprise you to hear that Kurzawa to Arsenal is a big NO for me. Despite the crucial need of a good left-back, this is not the player we need. He’s not performing enough, he’s not consistent enough and would not help our defence, specially if we need to rebuild a back line. Adding to that he’s the kind of player who can lose his temper or act up on of the pitch. He’s famous in France since his ridiculous behavior against Sweden in 2014, when he taunted the Swedish after his goal just to be taunted in return when his side finally lost in the last minute of the game. On that point, he reminds me a lot of Serge Aurier, who also was a very good player at his prime but never reached the expectations.
I’m also afraid by the role Kya Joorabchian can have in this deal. It is well-known the super-agent has a hand on Arsenal transfer business, influencing Edu Gaspard behind the scene. Which, for the moment, has not bring the success to this Gunners side. Let’s hope Arteta will have the final word on it.
That’s all for me folks. Feel free to comment/share. And take care of yourselves in these strange times