The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at why Filip Kostic could be an answer to Arsenal’s problems next season.
After a busy summer last time out, Arsenal are once again poised to undergo a major squad overhaul when the season ends. The Gunners have failed to live up to the expectations and under new boss Mikel Arteta, they will be hoping to embark on a new era.
Only this time, they have actually shown promise. But at the same time, the club needs to tread carefully in the transfer market given the financial toll inflicted by the Coronavirus. One such cost-effective option Arsenal could pursue is Filip Kostic.
The Eintracht Frankfurt winger is revered as one of the best attackers in the Bundesliga at the moment, having flourished under Adi Hutter. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will make a case for the Serbian to join the Gunners next season.
Filip Kostic’s monumental success at Eintracht Frankfurt
In order to figure out Kostic’s true potential, we must take a closer look at his success at Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Serbian was initially a maligned figure at Hamburger SV, where he failed big time, having scored just nine goals in 65 competitive appearances. That is why his loan transfer to Frankfurt in 2018 seemed like a shrewd move from Fredi Bobic.
Having said that, Kostic made a big difference in his first season at the club. He was involved in 17 goals in 34 Bundesliga matches, with his exploits helping the Eagles reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League as well as attaining a seventh-placed finish in the league table. However, it wasn’t just his productivity that caught the eye.
Kostic quickly became an instrumental figure in coach Adi Hutter’s direct style of play. His work-rate, combined with his willingness to close down the opposing ball-carriers worked as a catalyst in Eintracht’s high-powered attack that relied heavily on chance creation as well as counter-attacks.
The revered attacking combo of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic clearly helped in maximising Kostic’s good work in the creative department. But, the Serbian also deserves credit, having notably averaged 1.4 key passes and 3.1 attempted tackles per game during the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign, according to Whoscored.
Meilleurs passeurs décisifs en 2019/20 avec un club du Top 5 Européen :
20 🎯 – 🇦🇷 Di Maria
18 🎯 – 🇧🇪 De Bruyne
18 🎯 – 🏴 Sancho
18 🎯 – 🇩🇪 Muller
16 🎯 – 🇦🇷 Messi
14 🎯 – 🏴 Alexander-Arnold
14 🎯 – 🇷🇸 Kostic
13 🎯 – 🇪🇸 Luis Alberto
13 🎯 – 🇫🇷 Mbappé
— Statistiques (@Stats_OL) March 17, 2020
Decoding the problems in the Arsenal attack
Despite the marquee signing of Nicolas Pepe last summer, Arsenal have not been able to establish themselves as one of the most feared teams in England. The lack of stability in defence has often held them back. But one thing which is constantly overlooked is their struggle in creating opportunities.
Arsenal’s creator-in-chief, Mesut Ozil, has endured a constant decline over the past couple of years. His lack of creative endeavours has coincided with Dani Ceballos and Reiss Nelson’s injury problems while Pepe’s explosiveness is yet to be utilised properly by any of the managers.
As a result, the Gunners have, instead, relied on the services of goalscoring individuals like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and even Gabriel Martinelli. It clearly doesn’t bode well for the club in the long-term, especially with Aubameyang already being linked with a move away from Emirates.
The case of Filip Kostic at Arsenal
What makes Kostic such an appealing target for Arsenal is that he could be able to open up a host of tactical possibilities for coach Mikel Arteta.
Especially on the left flank, the Spaniard can utilise the Frankfurt star as a wing-back, in a five-man backline, with Hector Bellerin featuring on the opposite end of the pitch. The attacking qualities of these two individuals will undoubtedly boost Arsenal’s creative prowess.
In addition, the presence of three central defenders will bring in more stability at the back. It will also provide someone like David Luiz more freedom to move forward and dictate the build-up play with his excellent range of passing.
Alternatively, Kostic can also operate as a winger. His ability to get to the byline and provide crosses should benefit the likes of Lacazette. The width provided by the Serbian could be equally important in maintaining a better and more sophisticated shape, with an added emphasis on ball-retention.
Moreover, the 27-year-old has the aggression that could tune in well with the physically astute nature of the Premier League. It could significantly improve Arsenal’s effectiveness in the first line of press.
Hardened by years of experience at the highest level of football, Kostic, therefore, is surely an appealing target for Arsenal if they are to enhance their attacking armoury in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Can Arsenal afford Filip Kostic?
Kostic’s move to Eintracht Frankfurt was made permanent for a fee of just €6 million. He currently has a contract until 2023 and given the club’s mass exodus last summer, the Eagles will not be willing to part ways with their prized attacker that easily.
However, Kostic is still likely to be a cheaper option, especially when compared to other wingers like Wilfried Zaha. Besides, the prospect of playing in the Premier League could be intriguing enough for the Serbian to switch sides in the summer.