By 90Min
June 23, 2019

If the recent reports are to be believed, then Kieran Tierney looks likely to become Unai Emery's first signing of the summer.

Arsenal are set for another year without Champions League football after failure to win the Europa League or secure a top four finish in the Premier League.

Naturally, in order to put an end to what appears to be a recurring theme each year, signings must be made. Make no bones about it, Arsenal were atrocious at the back last season. Like, really bad. Therefore, reinforcements are imperative if the Gunners are expected to put an end to the abundance of negativity that currently exudes from its dejected fanbase.

The ball has started rolling though, and one such addition appears to be Celtic's highly rated left back. A £15m bid was knocked back by the Hoops this week, with Arsenal widely tipped to back an improved offer and seal a deal. 

So, with that in mind, here are five reasons why they must ensure they bring the Scot to north London this summer.


Versatility

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Emery tinkered with his formation on a number of occasions last term, usually to no avail. However, what is abundantly clear is that he isn't entirely sure what his best formation is. Sead Kolasinac is quite frankly incapable of playing on the left side of a back three, while Nacho Monreal hasn't got the legs anymore to play as a wing back. Furthermore, neither can play in a flat back four. A rather ridiculous conundrum.

Step forward Tierney. The 22-year-old has shown an incredible amount of versatility during his time at Celtic, more than comfortable slotting in as a left back in a four man defence, or operating as a wing back.

With excellent energy, he can move up to support his midfield in transition while his superb pace allows him to overlap the wingers throughout the 90 minutes. Energy and pace are two fundamental aspects of the modern full back, traits Tierney has in abundance, but it is his versatility to switch in differing formations that will have caught Emery's eye the most.

The Spaniard is not afraid to change his side's tactical approach from game to game, sometimes rather dramatically, and Tierney has the qualities to slot right in.


Experience

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Granted, the Scottish league is not the most physically demanding, technically gifted or even emotionally draining league in the world. But Tierney has seen plenty of game time since breaking into the first team back in 2015.


In 2016 he made his first Champions League bow, featuring in the group stages of the tournament as Celtic finished bottom of their group with three draws and three defeats. He went on to feature in the competition during the next two seasons - although his side failed to reach the group stages last season - during which time he's faced the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

Such experience is immeasurable, and if he is to move on to the next stage of his career then huge Champions League occasions such as the ones he's taken part in will put him in good stead.

Aside from just certain occasions, the defender has vast amounts of experience when it comes to silverware. Celtic are currently enjoying one of the greatest spells in their history, obliterating all who stand in their way in Scotland on the path to multiple trophy successes. Since making the jump up to the senior squad, Tierney has already amassed four league titles, two Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.


Raw Talent

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As already touched on, Tierney boasts superb pace. Along with that and his aforementioned work rate, his intelligence in both offensive and defensive roles is another key trait. Even when running at breakneck speeds, he can make calculated decisions, anticipate attacking situations, and burst past players.


His talent hasn't gone unnoticed in his native Scotland though, and he has continually been scooping awards for his fine displays. Three consecutive PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year gongs were won between 2015-2018 to coincide with his SFWA Young Player of the Year trophies. Furthermore, he has also been named in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year on each of those occasions, this year failing to win any awards due to a recurring injury problem preventing him from making more than 21 league outings.

Very much in the mould of a modern full back, Tierney loves to link up in attack and possesses a keen eye for a pass. In the 2017/18 season he registered seven assists and three goals, despite missing eight games of the season. Even after an injury-ravaged campaign last term, he still recorded a further five assists, not including another one in Champions League qualifying. 


He Can Actually Defend

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While we've mentioned his versatility, it hasn't yet been mentioned just how good is at fulfilling his defensive duties.

Able to lead his side, having filled in as captain before, he also is fearless in the tackle and brave in the air. Standing at under six foot tall, he doesn't have the biggest frame, yet more than makes up for it with an excellent standing jump and precision timing.

In 38 games last season Celtic conceded only 20 goals, and since Tierney made his breakthrough season in 2015/16, the club have never conceded more than 25 in an entire campaign. Since news of Arsenal's interest broke, pundits and ex-players alike have been singing the Scotsman's praises, with natural comparisons to Andrew Robertson duly following.

"If Kieran was playing in England, he'd probably be worth about £50m," Celtic great Pat Bonner told BBC.

"He's got the ability to go into a club like Arsenal. If you were picking out a player in British football at the moment that can play left-back, himself and [Liverpool's Scotland captain] Andy Robertson are the best two in Britain, if not Europe."


He's Neither Sead Kolasinac or Nacho Monreal

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Since Gael Clichy was in his prime, Arsenal have never succeeded to find a proper, all-round left back, no matter how hard they've tried. 

Let's swiftly move past Andre Santos, a period of Arsenal's history best left forgotten, and look at the current pair. Monreal has been an excellent servant to the club since moving from Malaga in 2013, always among the top performers in the side and arguably one of the most consistent members of the squad.

Nevertheless, it's fair to say that having turned 33, his best days are well and truly past him. The fact that he is now only played on the left side of a back three highlights the obvious issue of his fitness while equally exposing him to another position he still isn't particularly well-versed in.

Like Jekyll and Hyde, Kolasinac has assumed the other side of the job as a full back, linking with the attack and overlapping at any given opportunity. However, neither can do both effectively, therefore Emery has often been left with the unfortunate position of selecting both players on occasion in a 3-4-1-2 setup that caters to their respective 'skillsets'.

Still, they aren't great at what they do, so with the likely arrival of Tierney we could see Arsenal revert to a back four, by which time the club will actually have a full back on their books who can manage to defend and attack. Can you imagine?

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