Kieran Tierney is close to joining Real Sociedad on a season-long loan, per multiple reports. The Spanish club will reportedly pay a loan fee and cover the defender’s wages, saving Arsenal £6M this year. The Scotsman is under contract through the end of the 2025-26 season, so the Gunners will have plenty of time to find a permanent move without risking losing him. There are still a few details to be sorted, said Mikel Arteta, and Tierney still has to pass his medical before the move can be made official.
Early in the summer, it seemed as if Tierney was heading to Newcastle. It’s not clear why that move didn’t happen, but I can understand Arsenal’s reluctance to strengthen a rival (if that was indeed the stumbling block). Kieran Tierney is a solid, Premier League proven left back, and he would have improved Newcastle.
At the same time, there are only so many teams who can afford to pay the amounts that Arsenal would like to get for their players. That will only get more true as Arsenal rebuild their roster with talented youth, some of whom will wantaway or need to be moved on going forward. The club are going to reach a point where they simply cannot not sell to certain clubs for fear of strengthening them. The alternative is selling to smaller clubs who cannot afford the full asking price.
Tierney doesn’t really fit into Mikel Arteta’s system. He’s more a traditional, overlap and cross fullback rather than one who can step into midfield, pick a pass, and help retain possession. He’s also a left back specialist as opposed to a defender who can play multiple positions across the backline.
He’s a good player, but he’s not the right player for Arsenal anymore. He needs to be playing to further his own career at both club and international level. And Arsenal stand to benefit from the loan, too. They save on his wages this year, but more importantly, Tierney has the opportunity to rehabilitate his value and attract suitors for next summer.
It’s a tough sell to convince a buyer that a player who is clearly surplus to requirements at Arsenal and who has been consistently passed over for selection by the manager is someone they should pay full freight to acquire. A successful season on loan in Spain will showcase his talents and remind teams why Arsenal paid a top-10 all-time fee at the time for a left back to acquire him ahead of the 2019-2020 season.