Stephan Lichtsteiner is not the sort of sexy first signing by Emery we were all hoping for. In fact, had Wenger still be in charge and a Swiss 34 year old right back was his first squad addition this summer, we would almost all be jumping up and down and storm the Emirates with pitchforks and torches.
Yet this ex-Juve player is a sensible addition to the team and shows that Emery’s first focus is on improving the squad’s strength in depth and experience levels within the team.
So what is he likely to add to Arsenal’s squad:
- Stephan will bring leadership and the ‘experience of winning’ to the team, both on the field and in the dressing room. He is the current captain of the Swiss national team, and if you have ever seen him play for club or country you will know him as a very focused, professional and no-nonsense defender with a strong engine. He will fit in straightaway and know what is expected of him. I have no doubt that he will improve the leadership ability within our team.
- Although he is 34, Lichtsteiner is still very fit and driven. He played 37 games on average per season (32 last campaign) for Juventus and is as hungry as ever. He will not be our automatic first choice right back and this is ideal to get the best out of Bellerin. Hector is a great talent and could become an Arsenal-Great, but his progress has stagnated a bit. Working with Lichtsteiner, a Master in his position, should help the apprentice tremendously in making that last step to a top-top wing-back. I can see them playing both a lot of games and provide real attacking thrust and defensive solidity to our right wing next season.
- Granit Xhaka is top captain material for Arsenal. Lichtsteiner’s compatriot has charisma, seriousness, a hard-edge and sits in the ideal position – central midfield (deep) – to see the game in front of him as well as behind him and function as the on-field strategist and team-coach. But he is still a bit young and hot-headed at times, and he came with a reputation from the Bundesliga which of course the referees jumped on straightaway (Arsenal players can get kicked about without any repercussions, but oh dear if a Gunner decides to do something back…). Xhaka will play regularly near, and often next to, the Swiss captain, and I reckon Lichtsteiner will teach him a few captain-tricks and insights along the way.
So a sensible signing that will strengthen the team and provide fine cover and a bit of competition and learning-opportunities for the fine-haired fashion-man. Next questions to answer is who will he have to play with at right-side CB: Mustafi, Chambers, Sokratis, ANother??