In Unai Emery’s debut season at the Emirates, despite improvements in the final third of the pitch, Arsenal’s backline continues to have frailties that could hinder their chances of finishing in the Top 4.
With Nacho Monreal ageing and Sead Kolasinac struggling to find the balance between attack and defence, the Gunners are rumoured to bid £25 million for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney in the summer.
The defender is Celtic through and through, joining the club since the age of 7. He has flourished for The Hoops in the back four since his breakthrough in 2015/16, playing a pivotal part in their recent dominance of Scottish football. Many of the Celtic Park faithful believe he will achieve boundless success for whichever top club that is lucky to get him.
After earning a reputation of a reliable wide player for the development squad, Tierney made his first-team debut as a substitute under Ronny Deila.
Just one more appearance followed for the 18-year-old in 2014/15 before an impressive 2015/16 to establish himself as one of Europe’s most exciting left backs. Winning the Players’ and Writers’ Young Player that year was a testament to the left back’s progression, with his 33 appearances in all competitions turning out to be integral for Celtic as they once again steamrolled the Scottish first division.
Despite his 2016/17 being somewhat hampered by a pair of injuries, the Scot continued to go from strength to strength through the season. An improved 40 appearances in all competitions, including 9 in the UCL and UEL, meant Tierney was getting more attention from Europe’s Top Leagues. Yet his loyalties remained at Celtic Park under Brendan Rodgers.
The progression continued for the Scottish international in 2017/18, his best season in the green and white. The energy and longevity of the 21-year-old is indisputable, making a staggering 55 appearances in all competitions last year. His offensive output rose considerably with 5 goals and 9 assists, yet he also showed his versatility by playing as a central defender in the League Cup against Kilmarnock. Tierney’s consistency was instrumental in Celtic’s historic double treble season to add to his accolades in Scotland.
Style of Play
Fast, aggressive, strong and energetic are just a handful of words to describe the 6ft tall defender. His ability to play over 50 games through a season with these physical attributes makes him such a commanding figure in the back line and at such a young age, he will only develop over time.
Not only does Tierney have a dominant physical presence, his technical ability also allows him to thrive on either end of the pitch. The defender is known for making intelligent runs into the opposition half, either helping set up teammates or setting himself up to test the goalkeeper. Pinpoint accurate crosses coupled with powerful strikes almost makes Tierney a second winger.
But this doesn’t mean he neglects defensive duties. Outstanding performances in big matches such as against Bayern demonstrate how disciplined Tierney is. He reads the game well and often tackles well.
Will Arsenal get Tierney and should the Scotsman move to North London? Let us know on Twitter @TasteofFtbl