Kieran Tierney struggled at the start of his Arsenal career due to injury. But now, after a difficult year, the left-back has more than vindicated his value.
It has been a difficult time in north London for Kieran Tierney. Arriving from Celtic in a £25 million move last summer, there was hope that the Scottish international would immediately develop into Arsenal’s long-term starting left-back. Such hopes, however, were stented from the moment he arrived.
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Tierney came with a sports hernia. He was always going to miss the first few weeks of the season, likely until October. However, once he returned from fitness, after a handful of appearances in which he looked very bright, especially when crossing in advanced areas, he suffered a dislocated shoulder against West Ham in early December.
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Tierney did not play again until mid-June, six months later. His season was hugely disrupted by the coronavirus. He had just returned to training as the season came crashing to a halt, robbing him of the opportunity to play under Mikel Arteta for the first time.
Patience was needed, and Tierney has since spoken about the difficulties he faced this year:
“It’s been the toughest year of my life. I’ve had the injury and a lot of new challenges but you need challenges, you need to be uncomfortable. You need to challenge yourself to improve. I worked hard every day and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming to this massive club full of great players. I knew it was going to be tough coming in and trying to get my place in the team. I’m just grateful for every opportunity I get to go on the pitch and give my all. I try to repay the manager’s faith by working hard and trying to put in good performances.”
Following football’s return, Tierney has been sensational. Whether played as an orthodox left-back, left wing-back or even at left centre-back, the now 23-year-old has a wonderful combination of tactical astuteness, technical skill in possession, and an old-school aggression and bit that Arsenal have infamously lacked for several years.
Once Arteta settles on a back four, which is expected with new centre-halves in the mix next season, Tierney will become the long-term starting left-back that he was signed to be. And based on his performances thus far, no one will have any complaints about the decision whatsoever. He deserves such trust.
In fact, even an injury-hit year that he calls ‘the toughest of his life’, Tierney has already vindicated the £25 million price tag, proving that he more than has the ability, attitude, and character to fulfil the expectations that come with such an investment.
When fit and available, Tierney has been sensational, even in what he would consider a difficult season. As long as he remains injury-free, then, Arsenal have a true steal on their hands.