Arsenal defender and captain Laurent Koscielny‘s season and World Cup is in serious doubt after the 32-year-old suffered what appeared to be a serious injury in the opening 10 minutes of the Gunners’ Europa League semifinal match against Atletico Madrid in Spain.
Under no contact with the play nowhere close, Koscielny went down in a heap on the pitch grasping his ankle and screaming in pain. Diego Costa, nearby in his striker position, immediately signaled for the bench, as did a number of surrounding players. Koscielny was eventually stretchered off after receiving treatment on the pitch, all the while grimacing and yelling in serious pain.
All initial signs pointed to a torn Achilles, and that was confirmed by Arsenal before the game was even concluded.
The 32-year-old has been nursing an Achilles problem for years after being diagnosed with chronic tendonitis, and it came out last year that he would require daily treatment on his ankle to keep his career alive. “I have some problems,” he said in May of 2017. “Now it is better. I know it is a difficult injury because you need to work every day on this. Every morning I have my treatment for my Achilles and I know I need to do this to the end of my career.”
His current injury will require approximately a six-month recovery period.
Koscielny has not played much of late, with just one Premier League appearance since March 5th, but was on the field for the first leg against Atletico Madrid and was culpable for the visitors’ late goal at the Emirates that changed the course of the matchup. The Frenchman has dipped in form this season after serving as one of the premier defenders in the English top flight for much of his career.
The injury is ill-timed should it be proven as serious, as the World Cup is this summer and Koscielny remains an important part of France’s international squad. Koscielny announced in November that he would be retiring from international duty following this summer’s tournament, and now he has been robbed of his swansong. France does have the depth to deal with a serious injury to Koscielny, as they still have Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Kurt Zouma, and Presnel Kimpembe to fill in at center-back, among others.
Not only does an Achillies injury spell the end of Koscielny’s season and possibly his international career, it could also have serious ramifications on his future at Arsenal. Koscielny, at 32 years old and appearing to be on the decline, could be on thin ice at the Emirates. A new manager is due in next season with the departure of Arsene Wenger, and Koscielny’s contract expires in the summer of 2020. The club could choose to sell the Frenchman this summer, or he could prove on the outside of the squad looking in and eventually come to a mutual agreement to negate the rest of the contract. Much remains to be seen on how the immediate future will play out for Koscielny.