There are several players who command complete adoration from their own fans, but a big old “meh” from others:
Busquets at Barca; despised around the world for his dubious footballing morals without really seeming to stand out as being exceptional enough to forgive this black mark on his character. Yet constantly lauded as the best defensive midfielder in the world by Barca players and fans alike.
Carrick at United; loved by (most) United fans for his calm possession and ball retention, yet never have any fans of rival clubs been desperate to snatch the polarising talent of Michael Carrick from under United’s nose.
Stewart Downing at Liverpool; dazzling home fans with his allergy to assist’s and his goal-shy gait. Effortlessly eschewing the common assumption that wingers have to actually do anything of merit.
And finally Laurent Koscielny at Arsenal, a man so utterly deserving of adoration that it once led my friend Josh to remark that “I’d be happy with 10 Koscielny’s and a Van Persie”.
Laurent Koscielny is possibly still suffering from the hangover of 10/11 in the opinion of many fan’s, his debut season in the Premier League, and indeed only his second season of first flight football whatsoever. Koscielny has enjoyed a metoric rise from the French third tier to the Premier league in just 4 years. Ligue 2 player of the season in 08/09 while at Tours (alongside Arsenals latest signing and best mate Olivier Giroud) he earned a move to newly promoted Ligue 1 side Lorient, where his impressive displays secured Lorient’s best ever finish in 7th place and secured Laurent a move to Arsenal. His debut season at Arsenal will unfortunately be remembered for a handful of communication errors leading to unnecessary goals, the Birmingham blunder with Wojech standing out as especially painful. However the signs were there to suggest that once he’d managed to shake off the stabilisers, Arsenal would be left with a real talent. His supreme performance against Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League a particular highlight.
The widespread surprise at his exceptional performance in the heart of the French defence after Mickey Rourke in disguise (Mexes) picked up a suspension, just goes to show that he remains an under appreciated player. Yet for anyone who has had the pleasure of watching him week in, week out the commanding performance against the world’s best should come as no surprise. While Robin Van Persie rightly took all the praise this season, Koscielny was a close second. His assured and consistent performances at centre back have been a joy to behold. An intelligent player with precision passing, impressive strength for one so slight, an effortlessly graceful touch and the speed to nip back and make last ditch tackles to cover the more “adventurous” Vermaelen (http://goo.gl/zlXIT). Even chipping in with the crucial goal in a nerve shredding game against West Bromwich Albion on the final day to secure vital Champions League football for the next season and pip Sp*rs at the post.
The awkward adolescence is well and truly over. The acne has cleared and his delicious footballing breasts have blossomed, so much so that I would swap him for no other defender in the Premier League.
Laurent, I love you.
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