Francis Coquelin’s rise to Arsenal’s first-team hasn’t been easy, with the French midfielder getting his chance via a loan spell at Charlton Athletic and then performing admirably in a thrilling victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Since then, Coquelin has been in-and-out of Arsene Wenger’s side but remains a valued member of the Gunners’ squad, though this season he faces added competition for places from the likes of Granit Xhaka, Santi Cazorla, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey.
When called upon, though, Coquelin has performed well – especially in recent matches, where he has been thrust into the side following Xhaka’s suspension and Cazorla’s injury lay-off.
Perhaps surprisingly, he leads the way when compared to Barcelona’s key stars in one way, which shows he is improving in the final third.
League final third passes completed this season:
Francis Coquelin (128)
Lionel Messi (120)
Ivan Rakitić (126)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 27, 2016
Although many of his passes go sideways, Coquelin’s distribution has improved tremendously this season and he’s showing he can be more than a strong defensive midfielder in the future.
He still has improvements to make but the fact his passes in the final third this season see him ahead of Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic shows his class.
Moving forward, Coquelin will look to improve on these displays and become more of a regular fixture in Wenger’s first-team line-up.