Arsenal have just confirmed the departure of Nacho Monreal. The defender has joined Real Sociedad, signing a two-year contract. It is believed that the Spanish outfit have had to fork out only £225,000 for the services of Monreal, who previously had played for Malaga and childhood club CA Osasuna. In this article, we will discuss how the departure of Nacho could deeply affect Unai Emery and Arsenal this season.
Monreal’s experience could have been useful
Following the departure of Laurent Koscielny and the retirement of Petr Cech, Arsenal are in desperate need of leadership at the back. Monreal, in that regard, was an excellent candidate, thanks to his vast experience at the highest level of football.
Indeed, the Spaniard had initially joined Arsenal back in January 2013, in a €10 million move from Malaga. Since then, he had made 251 competitive appearances for the Gunners. The ex-Osasuna star also featured in almost 200 Premier League games.
At the age of 33, Monreal was slowly nearing the end of his career. But, at the same time, it would have given him the confidence as well as the wisdom to lead the Arsenal backline, who now have newcomer David Luiz as their most experienced defender.
Lack of depth at left-back
The biggest issue regarding the departure of Monreal is the lack of depth in the left-back department. Sead Kolasinac is expected to deputise for the Spaniard for the time being. But, the Bosnian international hasn’t exactly had a successful spell in the Premier League after joining from Schalke two years ago.
New signing Kieran Tierney is expected to become the club’s number one choice at left-back. But, the former Celtic ace is struggling with a hip injury that will keep him out until October. He doesn’t have a healthy record either, having suffered numerous spells on the sidelines during his time at Celtic.
The presence of Monreal, therefore, would have given Emery more insurance in that left-back slot. And that is rather necessary given the fact that the Gunners will also compete in the Europa League this season.
Monreal’s tactical versatility is always a bonus
Monreal is a left-back by trade. But, the 33-year-old had featured as a centre-back during his time with Arsenal. That means he could have been considered as an alternative for the likes of Luiz and Sokratis as well as Rob Holding. Additionally, he was adept in playing the role of a defensive wing-back. And this versatility could have been extremely useful, especially considering the strenuous schedule of English football.
Just to put things into perspective, Arsenal’s current crop of left-backs in Kolasinac and Tierney both lack that kind of versatility. Kolasinac, for example, is not great defensively and often struggles to deal with tricky wingers. As for Tierney, he doesn’t enjoy featuring as a wing-back.
Therefore, the departure of Monreal could potentially have a great impact on Arsenal’s season, although it’s likely that they will settle for a replacement for the Spaniard in January.
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