Arsenal fans’ may put off any big hopes they have of expecting a new defensive midfielder in the summer as it has now been confirmed that Coquelin has signed a new long-term deal at the club.
The 23-year old has solidified his place in the Gunners team this year and is gaining rapturous applause as the pivot for Arsenal’s newly found solidity and balance. Wenger might have recalled him to the team due to a shortage of midfielders but Coquelin has suddenly become the most important player of the team, warranting desperation on the club’s part to keep him for the long-term.
“I am very happy because for me the target during this transfer window was on two fronts,” Wenger said on Arsenal.com as an assessment of the club’s performance in the transfer window
“The first was to get a defender in and we did that.
“The second was also to extend the contracts of Coquelin and Akpom. That’s what I did as well so we are very happy with what we did.”
Coquelin has been at Arsenal since 2008 but has never quite nailed down a regular place, partly due to the fierce competition in his usual midfield position which had seen him usually deployed as a full back. That call on the evening of December 11, however, have seen a massive turnaround in his fortunes and he is arguably one of the very first names on the team sheet in recent games now.
From a team that looked frail and thin at the mid-point of the season, Arsene Wenger can finally boast of a team where every position has more than one capable player to deputize for the other. Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been vital all season for their forward contributions but Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott stepped up in their absence to deliver quality performances against Brighton and Aston Villa. Santi Cazorla has been immense and irreplaceable but Rosicky still has enough in his 34-year old tank to do as much as the little magician, while Welbeck’s absence has not been sorely missed. Same is the case in defence, especially with the full backs.
With Coquelin, though, it is hard to imagine Flamini as his able replacement and while both cost Arsene nothing to procure, it is now Flamini who looks set to leave the club while his younger compatriot might as well save the club some £20m.
Schneiderlin, Bender and William Carvalho are all still looked at as potential options for the summer, the Saints’ man being the most likely to arrive in the summer but that would have to depend on how Coquelin ends the season. There would be no economic sense in paying that much for a player when you already have someone in the team who can give as much, with the added passion that comes with having been educated at the club.
There is still some way between Schneiderlin and Coquelin but if he continues to improve as much as he’s done over the past 8 games, we may see a situation where even this new deal would need embellishment just to make sure someone does not bid him away easily at the end of the season.
At 23, he can finally cement a place in the Arsenal team and will give the club long years of service if he continues to keep his feet on the ground and improve steadily.
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