Arsenal have announced the signing of Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer. Arsene Wenger has celebrated his new deal by snapping up the Schalke left-back on a deal worth £7.5million a year. Kolasinac will begin pre-season with the Gunners after agreeing to a move to the Emirates on a free transfer from German club Schalke. Kolasinac was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1993. He arrived at Schalke in 2012, via hometown club Karlsruher SC and Hoffenheim. He broke into the Schalke first team in 2012 and has been a regular at Veltins-Arena ever since. He began his youth career as a central defender or holding midfielder but has since found his home on the left-hand side. Despite representing Germany at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level, he opted to play for his parents’ homeland of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2013. He perhaps has the bogey title as the man who scored the fastest own goal in World Cup history after he turned the ball into the net three minutes into Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 2014 group stage defeat by Argentina.
In a chaotic and turbulent Schalke season, consistently standing out and improving throughout the campaign has been a tough thing to do, but one player who has ascended to a higher plane like no other in the squad is Sead Kolašinac. Circumstances have been tough, but the Bosnian has soared beyond expectation and grown into one of the league’s, and indeed Europe’s finest players in his position. Kolašinac started only the first of Schalke’s opening five Bundesliga matches, all of which ended in defeat, with Chelsea loanee Abdul-Rahman Baba generally preferred for the left back role. An extra aiding factor for the team and Kolašinac himself was the switch to 3-5-2 from the match against RB Salzburg onwards. The system change helped balance out the side at the time and Kolašinac seized his chance.
Kolasinac’s Style of Play
The wing back position suits Kolašinac and his attributes perfectly. His defensive style is primarily on the front foot, preferring to push out into tackles and make interceptions high up, and his excellent recovery pace acted as his barrier in cases of being caught. Perhaps the most instantly eye-catching aspect of Kolašinac is his physique and the physical side of his game. He is well built with fantastic speed and strength which, in combination with his intelligence, positioning and forever-full-blooded approach makes him a formidable prospect one-on-one for wingers to go against. Direct into duels with strong timing and awareness, and while not reliant on his recovery pace, very much content in the fact that he can use it to see him through the trickier situations, his defensive play leaves next to no cause for concern.
The upswing in his attacking contribution, though, has perhaps been what has put him on the radar of the bigger sides more than anything else; the three goals and five assists are impressive, but watching his contribution and the effect he has on his team show the full range of strings he has to his bow. Those physical qualities and the intelligence shown on the defensive side are complemented further by his implementation of them and adaptability at the other end, but with a further displaying of what he can offer technically. There is a rough edge to his crossing – it may take a few failed attempts before he gets one right – but the relentlessness of his forward forays mean the extra bites of the cherry are usually forthcoming. His runs are unpredictable, offering width and a narrow threat as the situations call for it, and keeping up with him or getting the ball off him can be most enviable of tasks for opposition defenders. His ball-playing and often smart decision-making in the attacking third are notable, but then further from that right through his game – possibly what makes him so much of what he is – is an unending determination and bloody-mindedness. It showed in his reaction to having to fight for his place, and his contributions to goals. The assist at Wolfsburg, the equalisers against Darmstadt and RB Leipzig, the winner against Mainz – and defensive efforts like the magnificent game-saving block in the Derby against Borussia Dortmund in October, just to name a few examples, have come at decisive moments.
How will he fit in at Arsenal
Chelsea were interested in bringing in Kolasinac on deadline day in January to cover multiple positions in Antonio Conte’s side. Left back, left central defence as well as on the wing. His versatility is certainly a bonus, but Kolasinac’s style of play will be very appealing to Wenger. His defensive work rate and reluctance to shy away from a tackle will add some steel to the Arsenal backline. The signing of the Bosnian would also have been made more alluring by the fact his contract at Schalke expired this summer – allowing him to move to the Premier League on a free transfer at the end of the season. With Kieran Gibbs appearing to fade into the background at the Emirates Stadium, Kolasinac will provide real competition for Nacho Monreal and provide an exciting combination with Hector Bellerin on the opposite flank. Kolašinac has everything to become truly superb, and is certainly on the way there already. Landing him on a free may just be the steal of the summer.
We also like to end this article with a skills and goals video of him in 2017.