Arsenal are looking to reinforce their left-back options and are pursuing a deal for highly rated Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, according to the BBC.
David Ornstein, who’s been a voice of authority on the subject of Arsenal for many years, reported that the Gunners were confident of securing a deal despite an opening bid being rejected by the Scottish treble winners, who are demanding upwards of £20m.
The left-back position has caused selection headache for Unai Emery all season, with Sead Kolasinac proving a powerhouse going forward, though struggling defensively, and Nacho Monreal showing more defensive resilience and awareness but lacking the drive and quality in attack.
Kieran Tierney is considered an option who fits the best of both worlds, but what have those in the know had to say about the young Scotland international?
Brendan Rogers – Leicester manager
Leicester City manager Rogers worked with Tierney during his time at Celtic and has helped develop the youngster into the star he is today, adding significant value to the player in the process.
Speaking after a 2-0 win over Aberdeen, Rogers praised Tierney’s physical attributes as he scored the second goal of the game after a brilliant sprint up the pitch to finish a Celtic counter-attack.
“He has this great capacity to keep going and like you see in the 84th minute of the Aberdeen game, he’s able to get there before anyone else and make a good finish,” said Brendan Rodgers. “He’s an absolutely brilliant young player who has so much more to come.
“Sometimes people will have certain perceptions about players and I don’t think anyone would have thought he would be the fastest player in this squad. His power and speed off a standing start is fantastic. My teams tend to have dynamic players with speed in them and he’s a player who can carry out that role.
“He’s unique, Kieran, because he’s very robust and very strong for a young player. He’s worked very hard on his body and his intensity is incredible, he trains to the max every day and he’s got stronger and more powerful since I’ve been here. We had some measurements on that in Dubai and he was the quickest player in our squad.”
Arsenal fans will be very encouraged by the comments, especially as Emery’s first 12 months in charge at the club have shown the value he places on the energy and physicality of his full-backs.
The Gunners have been criticised in the past for lacking a physical presence that others possess, and Tierney would certainly add some steel to the back line.
James Forrest – Celtic teammate
Speaking to the Daily Record, Forrest said:
“I’ve faced Alba, Vertonghen and Kolarov. There are a lot of top ones when you go into the Champions League or Europa League or are playing with Scotland.
“But Kieran’s right up there. You can see the way he bombs up and down how fit he is and he’s good defensively as well. He’s a great athlete.
“He’s been training with the first team for a good four years now so I’ve played against him a lot in training.
“Whether you are playing against him or he’s in your team, you can see the quality he’s got.
“When you go away with the Scotland team others players who play against him realise how good he is.
“You’ve seen that with his performances in Europe and at international level.
“He can also play a couple of different positions. When you play in Europe all the left-backs tend to be good.
“There’s nothing between him and Andy. They are two great players for Scotland.”
Once again his physical attributes are top of the list for appraisal, but Forrest suggests the Gunners may be getting a more versatile player than they think.
The youngster can play on the left-wing as well, another position that’s caused problems for the Gunners, and is even competent at centre-back. He’s ticking a lot of boxes for Emery, even if he’s predominantly a left-back by trade, versatility is a useful quality in any player.
To be compared to the Champions League-calibre names above is very high praise indeed, and will surely get Arsenal fans excited over the possibility of a move to north London.
Celtic fans aren’t happy about Arsenal’s bid for one of their key players…
Charlie Adam – Ex-Scotland international
Speaking to the BBC, former Scotland international and soon-to-be free agent Charlie Adam said:
“I think it’s probably now time for him to leave Celtic.
“It’s the next progression for his career. Seeing how well Andrew Robertson’s progressed at Liverpool, as a player you’ve got to be thinking, ‘I want some of that.
“He’s done amazing at Celtic, winning the treble treble. It’s going to be difficult for him to leave because he is a big Celtic fan but if Arsenal do want him, they’ll have to pay serious money for him.”
The comparisons with Andy Robertson have been thrown around ever since the links between Tierney and Arsenal, and it’s easy to understand why.
There is certainly the sense that if Tierney is to develop into an elite player, a move to one of the major European Leagues is inevitable, in the same way it was for Moussa Dembele, or more notably Virgil van Dijk.
There’s been little-to-no bad press or reaction to Arsenal’s move for Tierney. The only criticism that could be thrown at the deal would surround the Gunners’ budget: if it really is just the reported £40m, is £20m+ on a left-back necessary? Kolasinac may be inconsistent but he’s not a priority to replace.
Whether finding a suitable left-back should be a priority or not, Arsenal would certainly be bringing in a top player if Tierney were to sign.