I will be perfectly honest right now – I had never heard of Vincent Koziello but reports were rife of links with Arsenal for the player as far back as November when a January move was possibly mooted so I decided the time was right to do a little research into this mysterious being ‘Vincent Koziello’.
First and foremost, what a name. He sounds the part. I immediately thought of an aggressively fast winger, short in stature and perhaps 16 years old – another one for the future Wenger will say upon announcing the deal, only to disappear into the academy ranks and potentially never fully graduated to the Arsenal first time. Whilst I was correct in assuming his stature, Vincent Koziello is in fact a diminutive, ball playing central midfielder who has an uncanny ability to ride a challenge from the most physical of players.
Dubbed the ‘new Xavi’, Koziello is in the midst of his breakthrough season playing for Nice. At 20 years old, he is very much in the infancy of his footballing education but this season has seen Koziello play 26 times in all competitions, scoring 3 and assisting a further 4, he appears to have the world at his feet. Nice currently sit 3rd in Ligue 1 and it is as much due to the calibre of performance of Koziello as it is the egotistical sorcery of Hatem Ben Arfa. This is the kind of player though that would work for Arsenal?
With Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky coming to the end of their respective Arsenal careers, Arsenal have room for a new central midfielder and a player of Koziello’s mould certainly would add a youthful depth. Arsenal aren’t in the position anymore of needing to sign experience to help bed in young players like they were 5 or 6 years ago. Players like Coquelin have Premier League experience, Ozil, Sanchez and Cech bring with themselves a winning mentality. With the Emirates paid off, Wenger has assembled a squad that is developing and transforming a mentality season by season of potential winners. They are a league title away from being the real thing.
With the environment right to nurture the development of a player of Koziello’s talent, would the young Frenchman fit into Wenger’s philosophy? Undoubtedly yes.
When looking into Koziello this week what struck me was that for a player with such an eye for a pass and ability to retain possession, it was his speed across the field and ability to dispossess much more physically imposing players that stood out for me. French football isn’t lacking strong and physically imposing centre midfielders, and whilst Koziello is very slight, he has a naturally ability to bounce off players when in possession of the ball and use his body very cleverly when trying to dispossess larger players. Having such foundations already built into his game could see Koziello adapting to life in the Premier League easily and with such a base level of skill Wenger can look into developing the young French man into an integral part of the Arsenal squad going forward over the years to come.
Arsenal face potential competition from AC Milan for Koziello’s signature but come the summer, if bids materialise from both clubs, surely the decision wouldn’t be a hard one? Whilst initially first time opportunities would be limited at Arsenal, compared to the re-building job needed at AC Milan, a move to the Emirates should undoubtedly be the best option.
At the start of the week, I hadn’t even heard of Vincent Koziello, but after spending a couple of days looking into the player and his performances this year, Koziello has the potential to be a star and he has the potential to be a star at Arsenal. Look out for this kid – he is very, very good.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog