Gunner Town reporter James Howson has an exclusive on Sead Kolasinac, the man tipped to be a future Arsenal star.
The Bosnian Hulk, The Tank as his countrymen call him or simply Sead Kolasinac as he’s more commonly known is set to sign for Arsenal football club. Firstly I know this is no secret in football, many people seem to be shouting this transfer from the rooftops it seems but it’s still a very notable transfer none the less. When you ask many a German football expert for their teams of the season, Kolasinac usually comes to mind for that left back berth, thanks to his high work rate, never say die attitude and pure athleticism.
To get the inside track on the Bosnian international, signing for Arsenal, I spoke to respected sports journalist for N1 TV from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haris Mrkonja about him and how the transfer came about. ( You can engage with Haris here @harismrkonjan1 .
Ok so Sead Kolasinac, tell us a bit about him, how long you have known him and what is the perception of him in Bosnian football?
I have known of him for several years now. First time I heard of Sead was when he joined Schalke 04 as a young and very promising footballer, but in Bosnia, he was still relatively unknown, because he was born in Germany from parents that have emigrated due to the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina during the 1990’s. He really came into the light when he had his debut for the Bosnian national team in a friendly match against Argentina. By then he was already making a name for himself in the Bundesliga, and he finally caught the attention of the NT manager. The whole country has to have a closer look, and he impressed immediately, despite losing to Argentina 2-0 that night. Since then, if he was healthy – he was playing. He is considered the future of Bosnian football. At only 23 years of age, he has at least the next decade to compete at the highest levels, unless (god forbid) catastrophic injuries occur.
There has been many twists and turns in the expected transfer of Kolasinac to Arsenal, tell us about how it has gone and what his father told you about it?
Well, it was a known fact that he wanted to leave Gelsenkirchen long before the Arsenal transfer speculation started, but few people knew exactly what his destination was going to be for the next season. Juventus and AC Milan were clubs that claimed they were interested in signing him, and the latter had a pre-contract agreement signed with the player. It seemed the deal was done, but because of the slow progression of the AC Milan takeover, it fell through on April 3rd. Then colleagues from the Bosnian media broke the story about Arsenal being his next stop and a contract was already signed. As a serious journalist, I wanted to double check and confirm the information. So I got in contact with his father, Faik, whom I see regularly following his son in Bosnia for the national team matches. I was rather surprised when he openly told me that Sead had not made up his mind yet, and that in a few days, the player, the father and his agent would all decide together. When I asked about what the player wanted, and if he was leaning toward a certain club, he would not disclose anything. He also did not want to rule out Milan as the next destination, so that is when I broke my story that has been quoted in media all around Europe and the world.
To make sure Arsenal was a reliable destination, I spoke with the current national team manager, Mehmed Bazdarevic, who confirmed he also spoke to Arsenal about Kolasinac, which meant they were seriously interested in the lad. Then, the trail got very cold. In the next few days, neither the father, nor my other contacts were available for comments, but I got confirmation about Arsenal from a fourth, very reliable source, which chose to remain anonymous. “The deal is done.”-he said. “They still haven’t signed anything because of the rules, but they have verbally agreed on all the terms.” As far as I know, AC Milan have started to pursue other players and took themselves out of the race. There was also a bit of hesitation from on the player’s part, because he wanted Arsene Wenger to stay at Arsenal at all costs and sought reassurances. Although Wenger to this day refuses constantly to talk about his own future at the club, the agreement with Kolasinac speaks volumes, at least to me.
Finally, what kind of player will Arsenal be getting, also what kind of character is he?
He is a very physical fullback, maybe a bit more defence oriented, but he certainly can get forward and put quality crosses in, as shown in the last Europa League match against Ajax. He possesses great pace, and can play in multiple positions on the pitch, so he is quite valuable. His natural position is left back, but can also play defensive midfielder, as well as the centre-back position in times of great need. I do not know him personally very well, but he seems to be a very serious young man, very responsible, quiet, but also very ambitious and competitive. He simply refuses to give up on any loose ball. That ambition drove him to be one of the top 3 left backs in Germany. I believe he’s going to fit perfectly within the English style of play, which is very physical and faster than elsewhere in Europe.
Wenger is getting a very good, young player, with tremendous upside. Only negative factor are small, nagging injuries the player has had during his still short professional career. He will have to watch himself a little bit, but given that he is joining the Gunners practically for free, Wenger has made and incredibly sound investment.
Gunners Town is pleased to host this guest post by James Howson (@BigJimmy_V) who is joining the team full-time.