Francis Coquelin to Freiburg: Good for the Player and the Club
Apologies for the blogging inactivity in recent days….not that it’s entirely my fault.
Shortly after my last post where I shared my views about Arsenal’s new season, Yaya Sanogo, I surfed around the web to see if I could get some promising info on Gonzalo Higuain.
All I could see was how his great-grandfather was speaking about how he has some French DNA in him and it has attracted Arsene Wenger to him. Then his long lost aunty got on the news as well, speaking about how he loves cats.
Then there was the video of him working around in an airport. Some believed it was London Heathrow Airport but it could also be Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport for all I care.
My point is that despite the fact that the Arsenal hierarchy had been blowing their trumpet about how much money they have in the bank, the protracted transfer saga of Gonzalo Higuain has made me to go beyond my threshold and I won’t care less if Arsene Wenger comes out to say that Olivier Giroud will be the next best thing in the forthcoming season.
However, the Gunners have been purging the squad off its world-famous “deadwood” with Andrey Arshavin and Seb Squillaci’s contracts expired, Denilson’s contract rescinded, Don Vito
Corleone Mannone off to Sunderland, Johan Djourou yoddling at Hamburg and most recently, Francis Coquelin sealing a loan move to Bundesliga outfit, SC Freiburg.
Since joining the club as an unearthed youngster in 2008, Le Coq hasn’t really had a chance to shine and in five years with the club, he has managed just 43 appearances. Injuries have taken its toll on his fledgling career but looking back at his time at the club thus far, I don’t feel that Coquelin inspires enough confidence to command a first-team berth.
C’mon, after his “breakthrough” performances of the 2011/12 season where he deputized admirably as a fullback when Arsenal was faced with that horrendous defensive injury crisis, many had tipped him for great things and I’d believed that the sale of Alex Song last season would have paved the way for young Coq to stamp his authority in midfield.
However, Wenger opted for the experienced head of Mikel Arteta to do the dirty work in the middle of the park and Arteta’s influence grew as he became an indispensable member of the squad. Coquelin on the other hand, warmed the bench so much, his spot on the bench was hot enough to fry an egg (provided you bring a pan, of course).
After just three matches in the campaign last season (following the sale of Song), Coquelin voiced his concerns about his bench time,
“Alex Song left for Barcelona and Arsenal didn’t sign another defensive midfielder. When I didn’t play in the first three matches it made me think about it. But I know I will get an opportunity and I will seize it.
“Arteta, Diaby and Cazorla are great players, who have more experience than me. But during training sessions every morning I am not behind them.
“I am 21-years-old, I know I cannot be patient any more. This year is the right season to make a name for myself at Arsenal. I have given myself six months and then I will take stock. If I see it is blocked, I will go somewhere else. But for now I know I have the qualities to make a name for myself at Arsenal.”
Little did he know that things weren’t going to change.
I like Le Coq and I really wish he could make a name for himself in Arsenal but a loan move to a club where he’ll probably be guaranteed of first-team football (can’t tell though) will do his world a whole lot good. He spent the entire 2010/11 campaign in the French Ligue 1 with FC Lorient where he amassed 24 apps for the French outfit, so he’s no stranger to playing in a different football league, albeit on a temporary basis.
While his passing range is something he really needs to work on, I admire Le Coq for his never-say-die attitude on the pitch and his exemplary work rate. This lad can cover every blade of grass on the pitch and he has some raw reserves of pace he uses when he wants to take the ball on his stride. While he will probably be primarily deployed as a holding midfielder, he’s also adept in the box-to-box role.
With Arteta’s undoubted experience and Aaron Ramsey’s resurgence, chances came few and far between for Le Coq last season and with Arsenal been linked with holding midfielders like Marouane Fellaini and Lars Bender, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that Coquelin will be living on borrowed time if the Gunners manage to secure deals for these defensive midfield juggernauts.
We have seen players that have made loan moves only to come back stronger (Jack Wilshere, anyone?) and of course, we have also seen players secured loan spells and turned out to be shite (*passing shisha to Marouane Chamakh*). For the love of everyone connected with Arsenal, let’s hope for the former.
I wish Francis Coquelin all the best in his time with SC Freiburg and I hope that his exposure to a different footballing culture as well as enough game time will help him develop to the player we hope he will become.
Au revoir, Le Coq.
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