Committed Koscielny wants to stick around for an Arsenal testimonial

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has become more vocal during his five years at Arsenal, now feels a little bit English, and can see himself finishing his career in North London.
Committed Koscielny wants to stick around for an Arsenal testimonial

When the French international arrived at Arsenal from Ligue 1 side Lorient in July, 2010, his reputation for reliable, aggressive defending hadn’t breached his national borders.

He has since become established as one of the Premier League’s most accomplished defenders and each transfer window invariably sees a link crop up with a European power such as Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

But, 29 now, he cannot see a future beyond Arsenal.

Speaking to the Arsenal Magazine, he said: “I have everything to be happy here. I have no reason to leave. At the end of my current contract, I will be one year away from my testimonial! Imagine a testimonial at the Emirates. It would be amazing!

“I will play for as long as my body can take it. I still have four years left on my contract here. I will be 34 then.

“Then we will see how I feel physically. But even if you are still fit, at some point, you have to stop! You can’t do a Robert Pires and stop playing at 42 in India!”

Asked if he now felt a little bit English now, Koscielny said: “I do a bit, especially with two little English people at home as my two children were born here.

“One of the physios keeps teasing me saying, ‘You’re not French, you’re English – you tackle and kick people.’ It makes me laugh. I am still very French but on the pitch I do feel a bit English.”

Koscielny hasn’t undergone a personality transplant in his adopted home, but admits he has become a more vocal presence in the Arsenal dressing room.

“They know that I am reserved but that I have a temper! Now and again, I speak out. I recall one big talk since 2010. It was two years ago before the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan. I was out injured so I couldn’t play.

“I told the squad what I was thinking. I wanted to mobilise everybody. I had a message to get through. It came from my heart and it went down well... I think! Even now, we joke about it sometimes. It was in English as well.

“There is no point to talk too much, anyway. It has to be at the right time, for the right thing and the right way too. Sometimes, also, you don’t need to talk. Just a look or a gesture is enough. I’m more like that.”

Koscielny identified Luis Suarez as one of his most difficult opponents during his time in England, characterising their relationship as heated but respectful: “He would kick me, I would kick him but it always ended with respect and a handshake.

“Yes, he was one of the best, like Sergio Aguero or Didier Drogba. The good thing about the Premier League is that you have so many different strikers. Every weekend, you have to excel in a different department to play against them. After every match, I have a look at my performance, the stats and see what I have done well.”

Koscielny’s first season at Arsenal was soured by a late mix-up with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, which allowed Birmingham City’s Obafemi Martins score the winning goal in the League Cup final. It is a memory he has gradually been able to suppress.

“I don’t think too much about the Birmingham game anymore but it will always be a very bad memory. It’s never nice to lose your first final with your new club but you learn from it. It has helped me for the rest of my career.

“Losing a final like that, after making a mistake with my keeper made me work harder to make amends for it. The FA Cups, on the other hand, were pure joy!”

A private figure, Koscielny admits he may well be something of a mystery to the Arsenal fans.

“Maybe they don’t feel like they know me because I’m not big on social networks. I have finally created a Twitter account but I don’t tweet much. I can’t be on my phone all day! I’m not super keen on these things but it’s nice. Before I wanted to protect my family, my children. I’m a bit more open now.”

Koscielny was speaking before the tragic events in Paris this week. He played in the win over Germany at the Stade de France on the night of the terrorist attacks, and though he played again in France’s international with England at Wembley on Tuesday, he was visibly emotional before the match.

Manager Arsene Wenger believes the horror has had a major impact and admits he may have to leave the player out of Saturday’s visit to West Brom.

“You could see that on Tuesday night he was not himself,” Wenger said. “It affected him deeply and I didn’t recognise the player I saw on Friday night on Tuesday night. I will talk with him. What I will want from him is that he’s completely committed and feels ready. If not, I will not play him.”

In the interview with Arsenal Magazine, Koscielny admits he has become a more reflective person during his spell in London.

“First of all, I am a father now. I was always quite chastened, reserved and stay-at-home, but having children helps you to put things in perspective, to stay grounded and to avoid thinking only about your own self. Now I live for my kids – I prepare their future. It’s very important for me.”

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