Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has branded his teammate Laurent Koscielny the 'perfect captain', ahead of the veteran defender's long-awaited return from injury.
The Frenchman has been out with an Achilles tendon rupture since the end of last season, but was among the substitutes for Saturday's 1-0 Premier League win over Huddersfield Town. With Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Nacho Monreal all injured, Koscielny can't return soon enough as the club stare down the barrel of a defensive injury crisis.
Discussing his teammates' off-the-field input during his time on the sidelines, via the Evening Standard, Leno said: "Of course, it is difficult for me to compare before (Koscielny’s injury) because I was not here, but in training you see how he is talking to other players. We have many young players, he talks to them and, for me, he is a big personality in the dressing room.
“Before (the 4-2 win against) Tottenham, he was not in the squad but five minutes before the game he said many, many good things about the history of the game, how important it is for the fans, the club, every player, so he is the perfect captain for us.”
With Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi both suspended, manager Unai Emery may well be forced to rush Koscielny back into action against Southampton next Sunday. The Gunners currently sit fifth in the Premier League table after making an impressive start to their first season in the new post-Wenger era.
Meanwhile, a report has claimed that Emery may look to bring in RCD Espanyol defender Mario Hermoso this January. The Spain international is thought to have a relatively affordable £35m release clause, and could be a fine option to boost the backline options for the north London side.