Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin has shone upon his introduction to the first-team this season, and it’s come as a great surprise for the supporters, while also vindicating manager Arsene Wenger’s philosophy as a coach.
With a growing treatment table of midfielders, as well as Mathieu Flamini & Mikel Arteta being out of contract in the summer, many felt the Londoners were going to shop for a commanding player to help nullify the threat of the opposition in the shape of Sami Khedira (Real Madrid) or Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), but instead the answer to their problem was right under their nose.
Francis Coquelin, 23, was on loan with Championship side Charlton Athletic this season, but was recalled by Wenger to come into the side during the injury crisis. He’s since made seven Premier League appearances, averaging a tackle or interception every 11 minutes.
Talks about a new contract are said to be in the offing following the Frenchman’s rise in the first-team, and his manager has been full of praise, saying: “I saw that he made huge improvements in training, and since I have played him, he is doing well. He is a very young player. You look just at what happens on the pitch. Win the ball and make a good pass, in his position that is important. We have offered him a new deal.”
The Arsenal boss also said Coquelin would likely be the answer to the club’s alleged need for a holding midfielder, and Wenger’s ethos has to be praised as a result. Signing a Khedira or Matuidi standard of player would set the club back more than £20M in today’s market, so having Coquelin – who has been at Arsenal since he was 17 – is a perfect option for them.
Wenger has been criticised for his faith in the youngsters, but he’s currently been vindicated for trusting his signings, rather than needing to spend high amounts on European talent. There was a question if Coquelin would be ready to be thrown straight in the deep end, given he was playing for Charlton earlier this campaign, but if your philosophy revolves around youth players, eventually the time has to come to give them a chance – something Wenger will always do.
The French midfielder could now become a mainstay as Arteta & Flamini’s successor, which has effectively cost Arsenal next to nothing.