Arsenal’s defence has been under constant scrutiny for the last decade at least.
Sébastien Squillaci, Carl Jenkinson and Philippe Senderos are among the flawed stars who have attempted to fill the void left by some of the Premier League’s greatest defenders.
The Gunners appeared to have turned a corner last summer though as Stan Kroenke splashed out £25million to sign Celtic’s skipper, Kieran Tierney. The Scottish international had just won his fifth consecutive Scottish Premiership title and was riding the wave of a historical treble-treble with his boyhood side.
But things have not quite worked out for the 22-year-old since he made the move down south as injuries restricted the left-back to just 11 appearances in all competitions before football’s shutdown.
Despite playing well during his limited game time, particularly in the Europa League, some reports suggest Tierney has already been written off. The Sun noted back in February that the North London club was ready to cut their losses on the full-back and sell him back to former boss Brendan Rodgers should Ben Chilwell depart Leicester City. The Foxes’ gain would be Arsenal’s baffling loss.
It comes as no surprise to see Rodgers linked with his former star-man; back in 2017 after a narrow Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, the then Celtic boss said, “Kieran Tierney was up against Arjen Robben and he was outstanding again. I had Danny Rose as a young player at Watford and I worked with Ryan Bertrand at Chelsea. And Kieran is right up there with those boys.”
It’s therefore surprising to read reports linking Arsenal with a move for Ajax full-back Nicolas Tagliafico. Although the Argentine is highly-rated, at five years Tierney’s senior with an alleged £22.4million asking price and competition from European giants Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan, it is not a transfer that makes sense.
Arsenal’s frugal nature in the transfer market became apparent long before Arsène Wenger’s reign came to an end. With bigger priorities elsewhere on the pitch such as centre-back and midfield, the Gunners board would be foolish not giving Tierney time to settle.
New boss Mikel Arteta appears to be a fan of the youngster. He told Arsenal legend Ian Wright recently: “I’m really looking forward to working with him and giving him the opportunity to play. His attitude, his commitment, his willingness, it’s incredible. I think he’s going to bring something special to us. It (the injury) has been a shame, but it’s part of his development. During your career, you go through these moments.”
Gunner’s fans may call for more consistency after seeing Sead Kolasinac blow hot and cold during his time in the capital and Tierney’s season blighted by injuries. But on this occasion, good things may come to those that wait.
Tierney was voted PFA Scottish young player of the year three times during his time at Parkhead and was a constant menace down the left-flank. He contributed at least five assists in every full campaign that he played in Scotland and although many will question the quality of football north of the border, Celtic and Rangers’ performances in Europe this season has surely added credibility to its standard. Pub teams don’t defeat the likes of Lazio, Porto and Braga.
Arsenal have long been accused of lacking leaders who are prepared to dig in and battle as well as producing the eye-catching flair that they became renowned for under Wenger. Tierney is a man who can do both. He captained his club and country at just 20-years-old and has 45 games in European competition under his belt already.
The summer signing returned to training following his shoulder injury before the coronavirus pandemic hit pause on football and the Premier League’s likely resumption next month offers Tierney the perfect opportunity to silence any doubters and stop Arsenal’s alleged transfer plans in their tracks.