With his recent transfer to Valencia, I am 100% certain many now know a lot about Francis Coquelin.
He joined Arsenal at the age of 17 after been scouted by Gilles Grimandi. Two years later he alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Antoine Griezmann won the U19 Euros Championship for France with Francis playing 84 minutes in the final game and Lacazette scoring the winning goal. Francis was also a member of the Arsenal 2009 FA Youth Cup winning squad.
As Francis himself commented in his goodbye message to fans, he came as a boy and Arsenal was part of his growing up to be a man. He considered Arsenal his second family.
I remember when I first watched Francis in the Six nil League Cup defeat of Sheffield United. I heard great things about him that night – his versatility and the fact he was very much one for the future. He played at right back as a substitute. His all round play was good. He was confident and you could see he was enjoying himself. He featured many times in positions he didn’t prefer just to do a job for his club and manager and this perhaps contributed to his delay in nailing down more starts for the first team. It is a measure of the lad’s level headedness that till today, he is not one for a social media circus.
Like almost all the French players I have watched, he is technically gifted as a footballer and the comfort level on the ball is something you don’t see often with footballers trained in England.
Yes he didn’t turn out to be a world-class footballer. But world-class teams don’t have 11 World Class Players; there are many non world-class players in the Barcelona and Real Madrid squads. Also you don’t need to be world class to win trophies in your playing career. After all Jamie Carragher and Djimi Traore won the UEFA Champions League.
Also not all promising players fulfill their potential. Only Jack Wilshere has had a comparatively better career than Francis Coquelin at senior level amongst the Arsenal 2009 FA Youth Cup winning squad.
Similarly with the French side that won the U19 Euros. Only Griezmann and Lacazette have done better than Coquelin. If you look at the England squad that went to that Euros, only Nathaniel Clyne could be said to have anything close to the career Francis has had at Arsenal. And Francis has won more trophies than Clyne.
While many are happy to jump on the ‘he didn’t progress’ bandwagon, I dare say he has been unlucky. He has had to wait his turn behind players like Diaby (before his injury), Denilson, Song, Fabregas, Rosicky, Nasri, Eboue, Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta, Benayoun and then Ozil and Cazorla before he got his opportunity in 2015 due to key injuries.
Apart from the Class of 92 at United, how many Academy Players have top clubs like Liverpool, United, and Chelsea produced? So Francis not developing into a top player isn’t the capital crime many want to turn it into. Just like Francis got his opportunity by chance, a player like Marcus Rashford got his opportunity the same way.
Everybody in United was raving about James Wilson who was going to be the new Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Van Persie combined into one person. But Wilson is now playing in the championship and Jose is gradually changing young Marcus’ game into a variation of his surname (THRASHford)
Another bandwagon that many jumped on is the low fee supposedly paid by Valencia to Arsenal despite the over inflated price in the market and the fact that Coquelin had a long term contract that was only renewed 12 months ago.
At something like £45k per week, handing Coquelin a contract extension was a no brainer. He does more than enough for £45k. Not renewing his contract at a time when his very good partnership with Santi Cazorla was still a thing would have been poor management. At the time Francis’ contract extension was announced, it was thought Santi was only out for the short term.
Deciding to sell him 12 months after extending his contract is what any business will do. Individuals wake up one morning craving a ‘Grande Macchiato Skinny Latte’ (If there is anything like that) and go to bed drinking some dross in a can. Businesses change strategic direction and reverse operating plans. Why should a club not change its decision when the facts change?
Coquelin wasn’t getting game time again because of competition. His partnership with others hasn’t quite worked out as it did with Cazorla. So the boss has let him go for the sake of his own career. Why is that such a hard thing to comprehend?
On the transfer fee, people accuse Stan Kroenke and the Board of Arsenal of not wanting to spend money. How can you then turn around and accuse them of throwing money away by selling a player at a lower fee than his transfer value? If they don’t like spending money, they are unlikely to be throwing it away.
Arsenal have gained something of a reputation for not paying above their own valuation of a player in the transfer market, why is this perception no longer true when it comes to selling a player? Why should Arsenal sell a player below its transfer value?
Two years ago, Nzonzi was £7m to the same Valencia. This season Konoplyanka left Athletico Madrid for Schalke for £11m. These are players that can be considered considerably better than Francis.
It might interest the moaners to realize that Valencia apparently paid Arsenal more than the players’ market value, contrary to their over inflated opinion.
It is very arrogant for ANY Arsenal fan to believe they know more about player valuation than the professionals working inside the club.
Even if Arsenal sell Coquelin cheaply. So what!
To help him get a decent sign – on bonus and wage at Valencia. He deserves every penny. He helped the club recruit his good friend Alexandre Lacazette and served Arsenal loyally for almost 10 years. I don’t understand demanding loyalty and not reciprocating.
By the way, valuations are not about opinions. So please take a step back on this one and don’t plead that bullshit about the right to an opinion.
If Arsenal have a sell on clause, they might potentially be getting something out of the 80m euros buy out clause Valencia has slapped on Coquelin. Hopefully when Real Madrid, Barcelona or PSG pay that money in 18 months time, 25% of that will come into Arsenal’s pockets.
Baba Grumpy works in financial services in the United Kingdom. He blogs mostly about football at http://babagrumpy.blogspot.co.uk. His Twitter handle is @BabaGrumpy