In the last few years, the captaincy role at Arsenal has often felt like an irrelevant position at the club. From Thomas Vermaelen’s last year at the club to the successors Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker, it’s been a long time since fans of the club actually saw their captain play week in, week out due to the various injuries each of these players has been forced to go through. With Mertesacker retiring from first-team football and taking up the role of Academy Manager, new Arsenal manager Unai Emery has a task on his hands to select the club’s new captain. The following takes a look at the four players he should consider for the role, in order of my own preference.
4 – Laurent Koscielny | Age: 32
One of the more likely candidates to be named the Arsenal captain is French international, and vice-captain, Laurent Koscielny. The 32-year-old has essentially acted as the club’s captain for the last few years due to the consistent absence of Mertesacker from the first-team.
The Tulle-born defender has been at the club for just under eight years and has made more than 300 appearances for the club, whilst also playing an important role in two FA Cup victories in recent years.
Despite this, it’s worth noting that the defender is currently injured after injuring his Achilles tendon in the second-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid, last month. Current reports claim Koscielny will be out of action until November at the very minimum, but whether he’s actually able to play for the club again is another story. The Frenchman has struggled with his Achilles for years and often took pain-relief injections prior to matches to continue to play for the club.
Taking into consideration the fact that Arsenal needs a captain that can play for the club week in, week out, it seems like a better option to keep Koscielny as a vice-captain and hand the honour to someone else. However, it’d be hard to argue or complain if Emery decided to show faith to the 32-year-old and give him the armband that he’s wanted permanently for years.
3 – Jack Wilshere | Age: 26
Another ideal candidate for Arsenal’s captaincy is Jack Wilshere. The English midfielder has been at the club since the age of nine-years-old but a range of injuries have prevented him from playing for the club on a more regular basis. However, the 26-year-old has still made just under 200 appearances for the club and remains as one of the fan’s most beloved players.
Despite still having a role to play in the first-team, it’s worth noting that in a months time the Englishman’s contract with the club is set to expire. With a number of clubs believed to be interested in the 26-year-old, the coming weeks will prove to be very important for the midfielder.
As of writing, there are rumours that state the club has offered Wilshere a new deal, but nothing will be signed until he’s had talks with new manager Unai Emery.
Should the midfielder remain loyal to the London club, it seems likely that he’ll be one of the front-runners to succeed Per Mertesacker as the club’s captain.
2 – Granit Xhaka | Age: 25
Albeit rather controversial, Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka is another candidate that Emery could choose to become his captain.
The 25-year-old joined the North London club in 2016 and has experienced a couple of difficult seasons in England, mostly due to his inconsistency. In addition to this, the midfielder is one of those players that has left a variety of different opinions on the fanbase. On one side, some fans realise that he has mostly been misused during his Arsenal tenure whilst others want Xhaka to be sold in the transfer window.
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the Basel-born midfielder plays an integral role in the team and is one of the only Arsenal players to have played well since the start of the calendar year.
When looking at his attitude on the pitch, it’s rather clear that Xhaka is a leader and would be a good candidate to become the club’s captain. Earning such a role wouldn’t be new to the midfielder either, who was named the captain of German side Borussia Monchengladbach in 2015 at the age of 22.
1 – Aaron Ramsey | Age: 27
Should Aaron Ramsey remain at the club and sign the new contract the club has put on the table, there’s absolutely no reason why the Welshman shouldn’t be given the captain’s armband.
Since joining the Gunners from Cardiff a decade ago, The Caerphilly-born midfielder has enjoyed a fantastic career with the Gunners where he has appeared in more than 300 games. The midfielder has also played a significant role in the club’s recent success, scoring the winning goal in the 2014 FA Cup final to end the infamous trophy drought as well as heading in the winner in last year’s final to set two other records – most FA Cups won by a club and also most FA Cups won by a manager.
At just 27-years-old, Ramsey still has some of the best years of his career ahead of him and it would be fantastic if he remains loyal to the North London club. However, considering his desire to someday play in Spain, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise should he depart the club this summer.
However, there is some room for optimism, Arsenal’s new manager, Unai Emery, has reportedly expressed his desire to build his team around the Welshman, and the 27-year-old himself has expressed his excitement at the appointment.
If Ramsey signs the contract, there’s no better man to follow in the footsteps of many greats and become the new captain.
Thumbnail image captured: ByJohnSmith