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Building The Arsenal: Now, Summer 2019 & the Future - Left Back

Examining Arsenal’s left back position.

Arsenal v Valencia - UEFA Europa League Semi Final : First Leg Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Welcome to part three of the ‘Building The Arsenal’ series, which is taking a look at the current depth chart and contract situations for each of the players at a particular position. I’ll attempt to project their individual futures, and the club’s objectives for the upcoming transfer window this summer. Up next is left back.

Previously: Goalkeeper | Right Back

Every spot on the Arsenal backline needs help. Who is Hector Bellerin’s backup? Can the club finally move on from the era of Shkodran Mustafi? Three of the options for Unai Emery’s back three system are 30 or older already. And exactly how much the new manager wants to play a wing back system versus a traditional back four moving forward as he shapes this team remains unknown.

No one would consider left back to be a position of strength at Arsenal. But with the current player pool and contract situations at left back, it might not be a summer priority.

Current Depth Chart

The past two seasons have seen Kolasinac and Monreal split time as the team flips between a back three and a back four, as well as dealing with injuries. Lately Kolasinac and the wing back formation has been Emery’s preference. Neither of the academy prospects have been given a chance or pushed their way into making an appearance.

  • Starter: Sead Kolasinac (25 years old, £18 million)
  • Backup: Nacho Monreal (33, £9m)
  • Future Prospects: Dominic Thompson (18, N/A, with the Arsenal U23s this season) & Cohen Bramall (23, £225k, with the Arsenal U23s this season)

*Transfer values taken from Transfermrkt - Arsenal.

Arsenal FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Contract Situation

  • Nacho Monreal - Contract expires on June 30th, 2019.
  • Sead Kolasinac - Under contract through June 2022.
  • Cohen Bramall - Under contract through June 2019, but could have an option to extend.*
  • Dominic Thompson - Under contract through June 2019, but could have an option to extend.*

*Couldn’t find the specific details of Bramall’s and Thompson’s contracts beyond the 6/2019 date.

A lot of questions await in the summer surrounding how Emery and the club view the future of the position. Will Arsenal stick with a wing-back system the majority of the time in 2019/20? Or has Emery mainly been trying to simply use what he has in the best manner he can for the time being?

Kolasinac is the only sure player to be involved next season. A player who is very effective as the left wing-back, especially in attack, but is a risk as a pure left back. Monreal provides create cover as both a left back and the left center back in a back three. Considering Nacho’s wages are about half of what the club is paying Kolasinac, he is a valuable player to retain.

Objectives for Summer 2019 Transfer Window

  • Nacho Monreal - Extend for one more year, especially if the club can keep the deal at or slightly below his current wages. Useful in two positions and depth. Plus with Aaron Ramsey leaving he is one of only a few senior players with long term experience at the club and the character we expect out of captains. And if nothing else, sign him to retain his value if they decide to sell before the start of the season.
  • Sead Kolasinac - No action needed.
  • Cohen Bramall - At 23 years old, if Bramall isn’t ready to at least make the Arsenal bench or appear in Cup matches, then it’s time to let the player move on.
  • Dominic Thompson - Looks the part with the U-23 squad. Lock him into a contract for 19/20 (if he isn’t already), and test him out in early European games and the Carabao Cup.
  • New Signings - If Emery thinks Thompson is ready, then no. That’s three options for next season, and those transfer funds can be spent on a new center back. If neither Thompson or Bramall can be expected to contribute next season, and a left sided Hector Bellerin can be found on the market, they should make the deal.

Projected 2019/20 Depth Chart

  • Starter: Sead Kolasinac
  • Backup: Nacho Monreal
  • Future Prospect: Dominic Thompson

Arsenal will probably only sign two or three players in the summer - center back, midfielder to replace Ramsey, and a wildcard. Considering how easy the depth chart and contract options fall into place at left back I wouldn’t imagine it’s a high priority for the club in the transfer window.

Will Arsenal win the Premier League with this left back depth chart? Clearly not. But it is serviceable to be a top four team - for one more year. By the time we reach next summer Monreal will be gone and the formation will hopefully be nailed down, which will help the club target the ideal long term starter at left back.

How would you feel deploying a wing back system for most of next season? Do you think Cohen Bramall or Dominic Thompson get solid minutes early on next season, like we saw with Emile Smith Rowe this year?