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Sad end for Arsenal’s least worst defender

OPINION: Departing Laurent Koscielny showed you can go a long way by being the best in a poor team - if that’s the kind of thing you want

09 August, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Laurent Koscielny

LAURENT Koscielny has earned a lot of money on the basis of little more than being the least worst defender at Arsenal in recent years.

It’s just like – exactly like, in fact – when the tallest boy in our school football team was scouted for county trials. He wasn’t so amazing, just the least worst of us because he was tough and his parents bought him Predator boots with ridged tops that apparently meant he could swerve in free-kicks. Never saw him do that, btw.

Anyway, a couple of decades later Duncan Bellybottom The Third* (*names have been changed) from our school has a car that looks like it goes fast, golf club membership and a detached house in Herts, having played professionally in the lower leagues for a bit.

All I’m saying, without a shred of bitterness, is that you can go a long way by being the best in a poor team, if that’s the kind of thing you want.

So it is a tad galling to see Koscielny being filmed pulling off his Arsenal shirt to reveal his new Bordeaux strip this week, looking as smug as a kid who had broken enough plates to exclude him from doing the dishes in the future.

This needless needling was a sad end to his time at Arsenal, which always promised to be more distinguished than it actually was. What really happened was that, after playing alongside Sebastian Squillaci, Mikael Silvestre, Shkodran Mustafi and even The BFG, he emerged as some sort of mythical superstar who could somehow heal Arsenal’s two-decade fragility.

But since the retirement of George Graham’s defensive dynasty, the club has signed only one truly top-level centre-back: Sol Campbell. Name me another, but you will only throw at me names of nearly men who would never have been considered by the title-winning teams at Chelsea, United or City who relied on granite-heads like Ferdinand, Terry and Kompany.

Unai Emery should have been prioritising an heir to Tony Adams all summer. As last season showed, there’s no point scoring first at Anfield, if you then let in five.

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