2013/14 English Premier League
Arsenal saw William Gallas, Sol Campbell, Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre leave the club in the summer of 2010, and in typical Arsene Wenger style, the manager turned to an unheralded Frenchman of whom little was known to solve his defensive problems, with Koscielny joining the club for a reported 10 million pounds from Lorient.
If the price seemed excessive for a player who had spent just one season playing in the French top flight, reassurance could be found in the fact that Koscielny was the 19th French player signed by Wenger, and his track record in that regard was fairly impressive. The defender produced an encouraging performance in the Emirates Cup soon after his arrival to suggest that he would strike up a productive partnership with Thomas Vermaelen.
Koscielny's ascent to the top of European football has not been a conventional one. After beginning his career with Guingamp, he was allowed to join Tours in the third tier of the French league in 2007 and enjoyed promotion with his new side before being named in the Ligue 2 Team of the Season the following campaign.
Lorient signed him for around 1.7 million euros in the summer of 2009 and he quickly established himself as one of the most promising defenders in the top flight, attracting the attention of Wenger and Arsenal. Things didn't really go according to plan in his first season as questions were raised about his ability to lead the Gunners' backline in the absence of first-choice centre-back Vermaelen, but Koscielny showed glimpses of brilliance -- his heroic display in the Champions League first leg against Barcelona one example.
In his second season, Koscielny demonstrated that he had settled at Arsenal. The defender shone in the heart of his side's backline and his displays were rewarded in the summer of 2012 as the Gunners announced he had penned a new contract. His international career with France also started to take off as he featured at Euro 2012 and was named man-of-the-match by French media when Laurent Blanc's side crashed out to Spain in the quarter-finals.
Despite being benched for the start of the 2012-13 campaign, Koscielny fought his way back into the Arsenal side and became a fans' favourite for his willingness to disrupt play. The France international was voted second in Arsenal's Player of the Season and his partnership with Per Mertesacker has helped to bring stability to a previously leaky Arsenal defence.
Strengths: Koscielny is a quick-thinking defender who positions himself well and shows good anticipation and pace to snuffle out danger. He also has aerial presence despite a lack of height and is a strong tackler.
Weaknesses: His decision making has been questionable at times; he showed a propensity to give away penalties in 2010-11 and at the beginning of 2013-14 season.
Career high: Going from the French second flight to one of Europe's elite clubs in the space of 12 months.
Career low: His mix-up with Wojciech Szczesny cost Arsenal the League Cup final against Birmingham and the opportunity to end the Gunners' then six-year trophy drought.
Style: Aggressive, uncompromising, energetic.
Quotes: "Koscielny reminds me a lot of Martin Keown. He's very tenacious. I hate labelling people because Martin Keown was one of the best we've ever had. But there are similarities there, the way Koscielny marks and his last-ditch tackles. He's tenacious in the tackle. [When it came to] that tight, one-to-one defending, there wasn't a better player that I've played with, [than Keown]. To put Koscielny in the same category is an enormous compliment I think." Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams praises Koscielny's defensive qualities.
Trivia: Koscielny has become a scorer of important goals for Arsenal, netting the winner against West Brom on the last day of the 2011-12 season and the decisive goal against Newcastle the following year to extend Wenger's impressive record of qualifying for every Champions League campaign and helping Arsenal to finish above Tottenham.
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