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Laurent Koscienly’s battle with Arsenal: How has this happened?

Laurent Koscielny, in his decision to refuse to travel on the tour of the USA, has shown himself to lack the requirements of an Arsenal captain.

The captain of a football club doesn’t hold many responsibilities. On the pitch they call the toss or speak to the referee and off it they may collect team fines. However, what a captain is always expected to do is lead by example.

Some captains lead with fear and strength. Ensuring they talk the loudest to create a strong bond with the manager. Others are more reserved and lead through their attitude, their ability or their ambition. Yet all captains are united in their desire to lead the team forward; to set the standards of the players, express the ethos of the club and ultimately put the team before themselves.

However, Laurent Koscielny, in his decision to refuse to travel with his teammates on the tour of the USA, has shown himself to lack the basic requirements of a captain. He seems to feel let down that the club have not agreed to release him from his contact as he knows clubs in France would sign him, but regardless, his attitude is risible.

But how does this happen? How does a captain of a football club feel they can make that decision? How in a transfer window where even Paul Poga has the decency to attend club tours, does Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal club captain, think he does not have to?

Koscielny, 33, joined the club for around £10 million in 2010 and after being sent off in his debut, slowly began to assert himself in the team. In an era where Arsenal have been ill-fated with poor defenders, Koscielny has been an anomaly, and was awarded the captaincy at the start of last season.

While he was injured at the time, and had in truth hoped to leave Arsenal before his injury, the club had no other candidates and it was felt Koscielny’s experience and hard working approach deserved the armband. Although it wasn’t the most inspired appointment and Koscielny is quiet in the dressing room, it seemed like a logical decision.

During last season, Koscielny played a total of 29 games which was supposedly more than he’d liked after coming back from his injury; he took a while to find his form but with Arsenal dire affairs in defence he continued to be an indispensible player.

Now one assumes, for Koscielny’s sake, that during the season he made it clear his intention to leave and the club may well have agreed to this in principle. It’s been well reported the club are desperate to sign a CB – although they could do with 2 – and while they’d prefer to keep Koscielny for another season, they could afford to pay him the respect to return to France.

However, with Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League and, as of yet, being unable to sign a defender, they are perfectly within their rights to reject Koscielny’s proposal. More so, Koscielny should have no response other than to be proud to wait it out a year, captaining Arsenal football club.

Forgetting for the moment that Koscielny is captain, if any squad player pulled such a stunt it would be deemed preposterous. Any player who has signed a contract has a duty to that club to fulfill their obligations, If Koscielny is so desperate to go, it is perfectly reasonably that Arsenal should expect a fee for him. They’ve already given one player away this summer, they could do without another.

Whether it is ill advice from agents and his entourage or he genuinely feels let down is somewhat irrelevant. Koscielny as an individual should know better. He should understand that in no circumstances is this the correct way to act.

Some may argue that this culture of increased player power is due to the value players now have to the clubs. In the past, when a player clashed with a manager, there was only one outcome – the player would leave. Yet, nowadays, how many times have we seen big players force managers out?

Others may believe it is the relaxed nature that has festered within Arsenal for years now. The ‘getting by’ belief that the bare minimum is enough. While Koscielny’s issue is a personal one, the impact could be more concerning for Arsenal.

In a club where Mesut Ozil is already excused for away days and top quality players have ran down their contract, is it any wonder the club captain feels entitled enough to make such a selfish decision? In his head, the defender probably feels he is being just when compared to previous sagas.

Arsenal are already in a transitioning period on the pitch and everyone is aware that the attitude of the club must improve, but it feels this issue has taken them further away from their supposed targets. The only good that could come from this stunt is that it becomes the catalyst for the Arsenal board to really understand the state the team are in and act to make a change.

For 10 years now, pundits have declared Arsenal lack leaders. Laurent Koscielny has done all he can do reinforce that point and for tarnishing his legacy, he shouldn’t be mourned. Now it’s time for Arsenal to move on and show how serious they are about ensuring no player ever feels they can disrespect the club like this again.

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