13 Aug TIERNEY TO ARSENAL THE PERFECT FIT?
MANY Celtic fans long term fear was realised last week, when Kieran Tierney did make his move down South by joining Arsenal for £25million.
Perhaps what was most surprising was the way in which many fans on social media reacted to the news – with anger and abuse.
Tierney was clearly aware of some of the reaction as he wrote an in-depth explanation and thank you to the club and the fans after his 15 years in the East End of Glasgow.
It must be said that it is not the majority of the fans handing out abuse and if the full back ever does return to Parkhead I would expect him to receive a warm welcome.
But how will Tierney get on down South? Has he moved a season or two too early? And is Arsenal the best place for the 22-year-old to develop his football?
Tierney has been Celtic’s first choice left back since the start of 2016 and quickly excelled from academy graduate to the first name on the team sheet. However, that in itself proved a problem.
Not the fact that he became lazy or lethargic but how can a player continue to improve by playing opposition, with all due respect, below his level, with no competition for his place?
There is no doubt that Tierney’s development has stagnated in the past 12-18 months.
Back then, it was a genuine contest between Andy Robertson, a new Liverpool signing, and Tierney, as to who was the best left back in the country. Now, Robertson is arguably the best player in the world in his position.
He has been outstanding for two years in a row and featured in two Champions League finals. Tierney will have looked at his progress and envisioned himself doing similarly. This was the perfect time to move. And that is where Arsenal come in.
He is by no means an automatic starter in North London. Yes, Tierney is the plan on the left flank for years to come but in Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac he has two established players to get ahead of.
The Bosnian has a contract for another three years so he is unlikely to go anywhere soon, although Monreal is expected to leave when his deal runs out next summer.
Emery was a long-term admirer of the Scot, especially the way he is able to combine defending and attacking, something neither of his rivals can.
Monreal was often used as centre half cover last season and has shortcomings going forward, whereas Kolasinac often forgets his defensive duties.
Not only will the Tierney try and push ahead of the two players in the pecking order, he can also learn from them, both having experienced years of football at the top level, in Spain and Germany.
Tierney was identified as the perfect balance to Hector Bellerin, the pacey Spanish right back who is currently recovering from an injury alongside him.
With these two Arsenal could genuinely create constant attacking threats from those positions, in the same way Liverpool and Manchester City do.
The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and coming up against top class opposition every week will only help improve Tierney.
Previously, he would only be exposed to this level on Champions League nights, and too often Celtic were ill prepared for the likes of Neymar, Robben and Edinson Cavani.
But Tierney never shied away from the big encounters and does come with plenty of big game experience, be it Europe, internationals, Old Firms or Cup Finals.
The Gunners are consistently beaten with the same stick- that they have a lack of character, steel, backbone. They will be hoping that a player who has captained his club plenty of times and even his country by the age of 22 can give them some of that.
Even the day-to-day of training with players such as Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang can only be a positive. Emery will work closely with the player and try and develop his game further.
His final ball delivery is something that must be improved if he wants to be considered a top player. But Arsenal is the perfect place for Tierney right now.
Emery has time on his side as he tries to mould his team in his image. They are going through changes, trying to be a younger, more aggressive, attacking side and with some of their summer signings, they are in the perfect position to do so.
They want to play the free flowing attacking football that Brendan Rodgers insisted on at Celtic, and Tierney is used to having the ball for most of the game, as Arsenal are likely to do.
As long as he can steer clear of the injuries that have plagued him for a year and get settled in London, he has everything to re-kindle the rapid progression his first few years saw.
He is the perfect fit for Arsenal and they are the ideal club for him. An improving Tierney is a benefit not only to himself and his new club but to Steve Clarke’s national team and Scottish football’s reputation.