Arsenal must ditch shoddy captaincy policy for issues to be fixed

When you think about the model professionals Arsenal have in their dressing room, they are few and far between.

Laurent Koscielny was one of them but the club captain who has dedicated blood, sweat and tears to the Gunners in his nine years in N5 looks as though he’s on his way out.

The Frenchman has been a loyal servant to Arsenal. This is a player who overcame a horrendous mistake alongside Wojciech Szczesny in the League Cup final to become a stalwart of the Emirates era.

In a period in their history where players have come and gone, he stayed. However, here we are, on the verge of seeing yet another Arsenal captain depart.

Should we be surprised? Arguably not. The Gunners have had problems when it’s come to leadership for a considerable period if time.

Cesc Fabregas decided he wanted to watch motor racing, rather than attend a game with Fulham when he was injured whilst William Gallas sulked on the pitch at St Andrews all the way back in 2008.

Other captains in the form of Robin van Persie and even Thierry Henry also left.

So with that in mind, it was arguably only a matter of time before Koscielny threw his toys out of the pram.

The 33-year-old came through one of the biggest injuries a player can suffer last year after missing the World Cup and the first half of 2018/19 with a ruptured Achilles.

For an individual who has had to play through the pain, the Arsenal club doctors and medical staff rallied around Koscielny one last time to get him back to fitness.

But in a way, that all rather feels like it’s been thrown in their faces.

Last week, it was revealed he wanted out. Deciding not to head on Arsenal’s tour of America, Unai Emery was left furious with his decision.

However, this is symptomatic of a huge problem with the Gunners.

On the face of it, they have no leaders and until they establish some sort of hierarchy, it’s hard to see them ever recovering from the average league positions they now find themselves in.

When Emery walked through the doors last season, he established five captains. Not one singular captain or vice, but five different men who would go onto don the armband at different points.

According to the Spaniard, those entrusted were Koscielny, Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil.

The latter two names are players who have delivered some extremely mediocre performances at times and the very fact they were considered to be captains was arguably alarming. The remaining three, meanwhile, could all have left the club by the end of the summer.

Xhaka has, of course, led the Swiss national team and with Koscielny’s future now in doubt, he’ll surely be one of the main candidates for the permanent role.

Ahead of Arsenal’s pre-season clash with Bayern Munich, Emery again reiterated his desire to have three to five captains.

This rather sums up the lack of direct leadership within the club. If he cannot settle upon just two members to be trusted with the duties, then arguably, there is an even bigger problem in Islington than first imagined.

In short, Arsenal’s head coach has to ditch this policy. The Gunners need to work out a hierarchy at playing level if they are to stand any chance of commanding respect and progressing as a team.

When Arsene Wenger first arrived on English soil he had vast amounts of leadership around him. In the Gunners’ ranks were the likes of Martin Keown and Tony Adams who were unrelenting in their approach and dedication to the club.

In 2019, however, the north London outfit couldn’t be further away from what they once had.

It’s a sad demise but it also tells you a lot about modern football. After all, this is now a business where vast sums of money are thrown around for players who rarely see out the duration of one contract.

Heading into the future, determining who will be their next captain should be fascinating to see.

Arsenal’s lack of funds means it’s unlikely they’ll sign someone merely with leadership qualities. Their decision to bring Stephan Lichtsteiner to the club hardly paid off and bringing in ageing individuals must be forgotten about.

Instead, they’ll have to pick from the current crop. It’s an uninspiring factor to note but there should be two main ringleaders right at the very top of Emery’s hierarchy.

Xhaka stands out as someone who could take on the role whilst Hector Bellerin is another.

The latter is someone who has dedicated parts of his life to speaking out about some of the greater issues affecting our planet outside of football and for those reasons alone seems a wonderful role model.

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Bellerin is someone who’s grown up around the club, fighting for his place after coming through the academy to becoming an adopted Londoner.

He is a player who also speaks out on the pitch too and that’s exactly what Arsenal need. Yes, they need more leaders, but establishing five members of their squad to take on the duty at different times is far too many.

Emery has a big call to make before the new campaign arrives but he must change his policy.

This has been a lingering issue for all too long, but with Koscielny potentially packing his bags, he now has the chance to change things for the better.

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