Arsenal's pre-season preparations in disarray following Koscielny refusal

Bad news for Arsenal fans

It's been a difficult couple of months for everyone involved with Arsenal Football Club.

The Gunners ended the season just a point outside the top four behind North London rivals Tottenham, before going down 4-1 to Chelsea in the Europa League final to ensure that the club would be absent from the UEFA Champions League for a third successive season.

Their failure to qualify for European footballs elite competition has really hit them hard over the last few years, with them struggling to attract the level of player that some of their rivals have, whilst seriously impacting on their revenue streams. Prize money, broadcasting and match day income has all suffered significantly and it's having a big effect.

It was reported after the 2018/19 season ended that the Gunners were set to make their first financial loss since 2002 and it looks like that's certainly the case with how tight the purse strings are in the red half of North London at the moment.

Despite having one of the richest owners in the Premier League, Unai Emery is reported to have been given an underwhelming transfer budget of just £45m to try and get the Gunners back in the Champions League.

A shockingly low figure in the current transfer climate and one that will almost certainly result in them being left behind by their rivals. Manchester City have spent £62.5m on Rodri, Manchester United have shelled out £50m on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and even the transfer banned Chelsea (Matteo Kovacic £40m) have managed to make a big money purchase.

Aaron Ramsey Unai Emery
Unai Emery has the smallest budget amongst the big six to strengthen his squad and he's also seen the likes of Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey depart

Even Tottenham (Tanguy Ndombele £63m) who haven't bought a player for 18 months have been active by smashing their transfer record, so this must be tough for Arsenal supporters.

The Spaniard is believed to have gone in for the likes of Yannick Carrasco, Kieran Tierney and Wilfried Zaha so far this window but the demands of each club have scuppered any potential move.

Emery has a colossal job on his hands in restoring Arsenal back to where they belong and his cause wasn't helped on Thursday morning when he and his squad jetted off to the United States for their pre-season tour with the exception of one key player.

Koscielny refusal highlights problems

Laurent Koscielny today made headlines around the world for all of the wrong reasons, taking a leaf out of Neymar and Antoine Griezmann's book by refusing to travel to the United States for the clubs pre-season tour.

He's Arsenal's longest serving & oldest player, arguably their best defender and club captain, so this has really sent shockwaves around the Gunners' fan base, whilst getting some laughs from rival supporters.

Koscielny joined the club from Lorient back in 2010 where he's developed into a stalwart at the back, which eventually led to him being handed the captaincy by Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchmen struggled with injuries last term but when he returned to fitness he featured regularly in the starting XI, making him a key asset both on and off the pitch for Unai Emery.

So for him to throw all this back in his face and refuse to travel on the clubs pre-season tour is an absolute disgrace. It's believed that he's keen for a move back to France with Bordeaux said to be interesting in signing him.

Laurent Koscielny Arsenal
Laurent Koscielny should be leading by example, instead he's sulking over a transfer

But with him still under contract for another 12 months, the Ligue 1 outfit need to come in for him and make an offer or he needs to come to an agreement with Arsenal to terminate his deal, which looks unlikely.

Emery is already short on funds and allowing him to leave for nothing would mean he'd had to dip into his limited transfer budget to replace him, so this just isn't an option.

The Gunners are furious with the behaviour of someone who's supposed to be a senior figure at the club and they released a short, but assertive statement on the matter which read:

"We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. 

We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time."

What next for the Gunners?

Well Arsenal have travelled to the United States as planned to kick off their pre-season preparations where they take on Colorado Rapids (15th July), Bayern Munich (18th July), Fiorentina (20th July) & Real Madrid (24th July).

Koscielny is the only exception from the first team squad not to make the journey, so he will have to train back in London otherwise he will be breaching his contract.

His conduct should lead to him being stripped of the Arsenal captaincy, but this situation has shedded some light on the lack of leaders in the Gunners squad. Identifying a replacement looks difficult, so it's going to be interesting to see who Emery opts for.

The Frenchman had his fair share of injury problems last term but he still featured in 29 games for the Gunners, 24 of which were starts so he's a valuable asset not just for what he (did) provides off the pitch.

Unai Emery
Unai Emery really has hit work cut out ahead of the new Premier League campaign

It seemed like before this news that Emery was already planning to replace him, with the club close to agreeing a deal to sign highly rated Saint-Etienne centre half William Saliba in a deal that'll see the 18 year-old spend this season on loan there.

That's at the request of the player who wants to continue his development with the Ligue 1 club, but with how things have developed Emery will be disappointed he can't acquire him right away.

All-in-all this summer is a big one for Arsenal and it's one that they MUST get right. Should they fail to qualify for the Champions League it'll be their fourth season without it. Revenue and budgets will drop and they'll struggle to attract top players, whilst managing to retain the ones they already have.

So Emery has to someone improve his squad with no money, find a new captain, try win silverware and get them in the top four...

But hey Arsenal fans, it's not all bad news. At least you have some absolutely superb kits to numb the pain slightly.

Good luck Unai.


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