Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has hailed teammate Francis Coquelin, claiming that the midfielder is a 'special' player.
As reported by the club's official site, the shot-stopper, who lined up alongside Coquelin in the Gunners' 4-0 FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa at the end of last month, has admitted that he was surprised it took so long for the midfielder to break into the first-team in north London, but isn't surprised by the player's development this past season.
Coquelin enjoyed a wonderful campaign under the guidance of Arsene Wenger last term, as he produced a number of fine performances in the middle of the park.
And Szczesny has insisted that the tough-tackling midfielder was always the best player in training at youth and reserve level.
“I’ve been here with Francis for seven years and we've always seen amazing potential,” the Poland goalkeeper told Arsenal Player. “Every time out there on the training field he was always the best player, back in the under-18s or the reserves.
“He was something special. His desire, his workrate and his ability to make tackles and interceptions is something incredible. I was quite surprised by how late Francis made his breakthrough.
“I know it's very difficult to come into a team like Arsenal at quite a young age but I was quite surprised by it. I was expecting him to do it much sooner. So I'm delighted for him.
“He's made the biggest impact this season. Since he came in, we look really solid defensively. He's not a flash player, he doesn't like to go past people. He doesn't get assists and he doesn't score many goals, but the work he does for the team is incredible.”
There's no doubt about it, the midfield ace is now a key man under the Wenger regime in north London, while Szczesny has it all to do make the No.1 spot his own again next season.
The 'keeper, despite starring in the cup final, lost his place to David Ospina in the second half of next season, so will no doubt be hoping to prove his credentials in pre-season ahead of the 2015/16 campaign.
As Szczesny pointed out, Arsenal most certainly looked a stronger outfit defensively with the Coquelin in the side, but Wenger will be well aware that the club can't stand still, if they're serious about overhauling Chelsea in next season's Premier League title race.
In truth, Wenger could do with adding one more top-class holding midfielder to his ranks this summer, so don't be surprised if he presses ahead in the upcoming window. A challenge for Coquelin, too, may only improve him as a player, so another midfield signing would only benefit the club as they look to step up once again.
It's a huge summer for the club, and they must act sooner rather than later. A couple of world-class additions will hand them a great chance of ending their wait for the Premier League title.
Arsenal fans: Who do you need to sign this summer? Have your say in the comments section below!
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