Arsenal attempted to sign Lavyin Kurzawa in January such that they could cash in on Sead Kolasinac. Selling the left-back might not seem like a wise move, but it is not entirely stupid.
The financial pressures of COVID-19 are beginning to show. Arsenal agreed a 12.5% pay cut with their players for an entire year, are bracing themselves for a tight window, as head of football Raul Sanllehi reportedly told staff of Thursday, per the London Evening Standard, while the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust claim that the club could announce losses of £144 million should next season’s games be played behind closed doors.
Given the strains on the club, the recruitment that Sanllehi, Edu Gaspar and the club make will have to be carefully managed, economically frugal, and largely funded by smart sales of the assets they do have.
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One such potential asset is left-back Sead Kolasinac. Arriving on a free transfer in 2017, Kolasinac has been in and out of the starting line-up ever since. But upon Kieran Tierney’s arrival last summer, the Bosnian is no longer viewed as the long-term starter at the position. While Tierney has missed much of the season through injury, he is still the intended left-back answer. Kolasinac is little more than depth.
As such, the Gunners have considered cashing in. Per Football.London, they approached Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa in January with the intention of signing him on a free transfer at the end of the season. That would then allow the club to sell Kolasinac, Kurzawa slotting in as the back-up to Tierney.
Many were against the Kurzawa links. A known troublemaker who would not come cheap in regards to wages and signing-on fee, questions were asked about the need to sign a 27-year-old full-back when the wage budget was already stretched and Kolasinac and Tierney offered ample cover at the position.
And still, offloading Kolasinac simply to sign a replacement is not necessarily the wisest move in the world, particularly considering the extent of the squad’s needs at other positions. But while selling Kolasinac might not seem entirely sensible, there is some logic to the move. He is injury-prone and rarely available — he has already missed 114 days and 17 games through injury. He will turn 27 in the summer. His contract pays £100,000 per week and expires in two years’ time.
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Kurzawa does not solve all of these problems, but should Arsenal sign him to a £100,000-per-week deal, any money they make from a Kolasinac sale, which could be comfortably north of £15 million, is spare. Kolasinac is limited in upside, and as a back-up, the Gunners can get cheaper at a position of relative unimportance.
Moreover, Bukayo Saka offers a high-upside alternative. While the teenager’s natural position is on the wing, he has performed superbly at left-back in Kolasinac’s and Tierney’s stead under Arteta. He will likely return to the left-wing next season, but he can provide depth at left-back if needed, and given the crucial nature of playing time in player development, leaving open a spot for Saka to fill, even one that is not in his natural position, can be helpful.
Kolasinac, then, is a capable back-up left-back who is useful to Arsenal. And selling to merely replace him is somewhat simple and limited in logic. Nevertheless, getting cheaper at the position, whether that is through signing Kurzawa or another avenue, is a smart team-building move. With the financial pressures the club is under, it is one they should consider.