Why Nacho Monreal’s Arsenal departure is understandable

Photo credit: Chensiyuan

Real Sociedad are reportedly closing in on Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal. The 33-year-old defender is currently in his final year of his current contract with the Gunners. Despite playing every minute of the north London club’s first three Premier League games, it would appear that Monreal would fall down the depth chart once Kieran Tierney recovers from injury.

Along with Monreal and Tierney, Arsenal also have Sead Kolasinac in the position. Although the Bosnian is certainly better suited to be deployed as a wing back, he can fill in at left back as well. Head coach Unai Emery is also very flexible with his formation choices and could go with a back three at times during the season. This formation would allow Kolasinac to play his preferred left wing back position. However, Emery deployed the versatile defender in a more traditional left back role throughout the team’s preseason run this summer.

Taking three senior left-sided defenders into the season is not particularly necessary. There were rumors of a possible Kolasinac departure this summer; however, potential buyers balked at the reported £20 million asking price. Monreal’s price tag will surely be nominal in world football terms.

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Some have suggested keeping the Spaniard until the January transfer period opens, just to give Tierney some time to settle with his new club. This would make sense in theory, but with the player out of contract in June, he could freely agree to a pre-contract with a foreign club in January.

Prior to the Liverpool loss on Saturday, Emery suggested that Tierney is still some time away from returning to full fitness. “[It is his] groin,” claimed the head coach. “[He] continues to receive treatment and further assessments. Aiming to participate in full training in October.” This may sound worrisome to many, but Emery does have a history of being liberal when discussing injury timeframes. In fact, he recently suggested Emile Smith Rowe would return to full training in the coming weeks, only for the 19-year-old future star to feature for the U23 team.

Emery addressed the Monreal situation (and perhaps other departures) during his post-match press conference at the weekend. “[Monreal] made a very big match, very big match, and he’s a very big professional for us,” said Emery. “It’s one issue, we need to speak the next days because in Europe the transfer window isn’t finished yet. But we are going to speak about all the situation, the possibility.”

“It’s the reason I was speaking about it’s not normal we close the window two weeks ago,” the Spaniard continued. “But in Europe it doesn’t finish until next week. Because the squad is not completely closed for us at the moment. It can leave some players. But we cannot sign another. And it depends a little the next days how we can decide about some circumstance with some players.”

If Monreal does in fact leave Arsenal this week, he would have left with his head held high. Now 33, the defender has been with club for six-and-a-half years and has always given his best on the pitch. While other players have departed with one foot already out of the door, Monreal has been a professional throughout his entire time in north London.

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