So, let's have a little chat about Sead Kolasinac
By Mac Johnson (Senior Writer)
You walk into a coffee shop in Hampstead, in northwest London. You're sipping at a skim milk latte—hey, no judgement for your poor taste—when you hear the revving of an engine down the normally idyllic street. A moped races by, with two blokes—one in blue, one in all-black, straddling the seat. You can see them pull up next to a matte black Mercedes SUV, and pull a blade on the driver, who's leaning into the vehicle.
After one or two verbal threats and experimental jabs, the man in blue runs at the driver, who takes a massive swing at his head, then another at his body. While the passenger slams the car door shut, the driver pursues the two men around the front of the car. As the men try to escape around the back, the driver pursues them, warding off another attack and ensuring their swift departure. As he turns back to his vehicle, you catch a glimpse of his face. The anvil of a jaw, strong beard, and massive arms: you're sure. It's Sead Kolasinac.
Our Bosnian Hulk, nicknamed the Destroyer, vindicated his moniker in November, 2019, when he fought off two armed attackers attempting to rob him, along with Mesut Özil, who was parked in the passenger seat at the time. He showed exceptional bravery and resolve, not to mention a serious fighting spirit. To be honest, it was probably his most impressive performance for Arsenal, on or off the pitch.
And Sead Kolasinac is a fighter, that much is certain. He proved it in November, and again at Schalke this past year, when he inspired revolution in the Schalke dressing room while on loan at the now-relegated German outfit. Alongside fellow Arsenal flop Shkodran Mustafi, the Bosnian international lead a player revolt against Schalke manager Christian Gross, who was their fourth manager of the 2020/21 campaign, after the firings of David Wagner, Manuel Baum, and Huub Stevens.
But it wasn't just a revolt against the coach. The players were eventually backed by Schalke's owners, and led a rout of the entire backroom. Gross's entire managing team was removed from their positions, along with squad manager Sascha Riether, Werner Leuthard, the head of performance, and Jochen Schneider, the sports and communications director. They also sacked their technical director and suspended two players, who returned upon the termination of Gross's contract.
So why am I telling you these two stories? Well, it should be painfully obvious to you that have watched Arsenal recently that Kolasinac must be transferred, regardless of actual cost. And considering we signed him on a free, earning a marginal profit shouldn't be too much of a challenge. What will be rather difficult is selling him, and the two tales told illustrate that point quite nicely.
My earlier quip about Kolasinac's defense of Mesut Özil being his best performance for Arsenal had a double meaning. it points out his failures on the pitch, but also his love of Arsenal in the first place. Specifically, the German contingent of Arsenal.
When Kolasinac signed on to the Gunners as a 24-year-old, he did so on the back of a bumper season at Schalke, and was able to join the aforementioned Özil and Mustafi, along with Granit Xhaka, who spent time at Borussia Monchengladbach. When Sokratis Papastathopolous and Bernd Leno joined a year later, that contingent increased. In an interview with Arsenal's official website, he revealed that Arsenal's heavily German presence had influenced his decision greatly, and allowed him to adapt to London life faster.
However, that German-speaking company has fallen apart. Sokratis, Mustafi, and Özil have all departed, and Xhaka will likely be in Rome within a week. Leno was often a fringe member, with his own social circle, and now only Kolasinac remains. With cohesion key to Arsenal's rebuild, squad outcasts will likely struggle to find a long-term home at London Colney.
He doesn't fit into the squad, and doesn't fit the team on the pitch. He has no future at the club, and yet will be difficult to sell, due to his limitations in possession, and his habit of leading rebellions, especially given he started his coup at Schalke, the club after Arsenal which he loves most of all. The 28-year-old is loyal, fierce, and competitive, everything you could want off the pitch—I would argue it is his loyalty to Schalke that called him to fight against their downfall—but he lacks marketability, and those who are most likely to seek a player of his profile might be warded off by his most recent German campaign, though a return to his secondary nation would be a dream for all parties involved, the player included.
Arsenal are faced with a number of confusing sales this summer, none moreso than the Bosnian. With the recent addition of Nuno Tavares, and of course, the continued growth of Kieran Tierney—not to mention his new 5-year deal—he should be sold, but to a market that is unlikely to buy. It is a conundrum that should be sorted soon, or we may have quite the fight on our hands. I don't think Kolasinac will be keen on sitting on the bench, do you?