Arsenal boss Unai Emery told why he cannot let ‘absolute disgrace’ Laurent Koscielny go
That’s the verdict of Gunners forward Perry Groves.
Arsenal revealed on Thursday that captain Koscielny had refused to join up with his team-mates for their three-game tour pre-season tour of the United States, where they face Bayern Munich, Fiorentina and Real Madrid.
The north London club said in a statement: “We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”
The 33-year-old Frenchman is down to the final year of his contract and according to the Evening Standard is desperate to go back to his homeland.
Koscielny – who has been at the club since 2010 – even reportedly asked the club to release him from his contract only to have his wish refused amid interest from Bordeaux, Rennes and Lyon and so took the decision to go on strike.
Arsenal do not want to lose Koscielny on a free transfer given their current financial struggles and it has even been suggested the veteran could buy out his £90,000-a-week contract at the Emirates in order to seal a switch.
Groves, who spent six years at Arsenal and won two league titles, insists Emery must come down hard on Koscielny given his unprofessional actions but insists his former club cannot afford to lose the defender on a free given how difficult they would find it to replace him.
Emery has yet to do any deals this summer having struggled to agree fees for the likes of William Saliba of Saint-Etienne and Kieran Tierney of Celtic because of his £45million budget, with his hopes of landing a winger also having proven problematic.
Laurent Koscielny wants to leave Arsenal after nine years’ service
Laurent Koscielny is likely to be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy
It would be great to say you’re never going to play for the club again, but Arsenal are not in that position because they haven’t got enough players
Teenage centre-back Saliba could be a long-term replacement for Koscielny but Tottenham have emerged as rivals for the player’s signature just as it appeared Arsenal were set to agree to a £27m deal that would see him loaned back to the Ligue 1 club next season and allow the Premier League side to pay his fee in instalments, allowing Emery’s other business not to be overly restricted.
“My captain, my a**e,” Grave said on talkSPORT: “I’ll just read out a quote: ‘I don’t believe any French player would have refused to come and play for Arsenal. It took me four years to go from the bench of Ligue 2 to Arsenal, so it is a great achievement. I have been on the crest of a wave for the last few years but it is just the beginning, I haven’t proved anything yet. Arsenal is a reference for football.’
“Who said that? Laurent Koscielny when he signed! I think someone should have a word with him and say, ‘Laurent I think you’ve forgotten your beginnings, I think you’ve forgotten when you’ve come from’.
“I hate it when footballers refuse to play, because they forget the privileged position they’re in.
“They’re in a very small minority of people who love what you’re doing and get paid, he’s been paid handsomely for nine years at Arsenal whether he’s been injured or out of form, they stuck by him.
Koscielny has refused to travel with Unai Emery’s squad to the United States
Laurent Koscielny wants to return to France, according to reports
“If I was a younger player who was being advised and had an agent saying you’ve got to force a move… but he’s 33 and he’s made the decision on his own!
“For him to try and force a move away from Arsenal is an absolute disgrace. They should fine him and strip him of the captaincy.
“It would be great to say you’re never going to play for the club again, but Arsenal are not in that position because they haven’t got enough players.
“And thing he’s done as well is, he’s been there nine years and you wouldn’t put him in the Frank McLintock, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure class, but he’s been a good player for us and he’s won two FA Cups.
“But, he’ll have no affection or good thoughts from the Arsenal fans at all now.”