Unai Emery and Arsenal have had two bids rejected for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, according to reports from The Times.
Tierney, 22, has shone for the Scottish Champions since rising through the ranks as a youth player, earning international acclaim with 12 senior caps alongside attracting interest from the Premier League’s elite.
The most recently publicised pursuit of Tierney has come from North London, as Emery aims to build on the promising foundations laid in 2018/19 with the Gunners vying to break back into the top-four and re-establish themselves as a heavyweight in the English top-flight.
Arsenal’s transfer strategy has been met with disillusionment from the club’s fanbase in recent years, with the most recent move to sanction the departure of 28-year-old Aaron Ramsey on a free to Juventus viewed as a questionable decision from the board and majority owner Stan Kroenke.
Ramsey’s exit from The Emirates combined with the frustrating inconsistency that Mesut Ozil brings to the table has given Emery a headache in his attacking midfield selections, alongside Henrik Mkhitaryan failing to reach the heights of his initial Arsenal career as well as the potential many inside the club believe he holds.
Yet whilst Arsenal have decisions to make in the incomings and outgoings of their attacking armoury, the club’s move for Tierney is representative of a new strategy that reflects a desire from within to alter their movements in the market.
The Gunners’ defensive frailties are well documented, with calls for the departure of Shkodran Mustafi intensifying, but if the club are able to seal the signature of Tierney it could mark a new era for their strategies in an increasingly inflated market.
The 22-year-old Scottish international made 40 appearances in all competitions for The Hoops in 2018/19, playing six times in the UEFA Champions League. Despite having his least productive season in the last four years from the perspective of attacking output, Tierney still registered four assists in the league, meaning since 2015/16 he has contributed 22 assists in the league as well as scoring five goals; these are numbers that will prove extremely attractive to the Arsenal hierarchy.
The club’s current options on the left side of their defence include Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal, with the former appearing in 24 Premier League games in 2018/19 and the latter appearing in 22, as Emery tested his available options in his debut season to decipher his best option on the left flank of Arsenal’s defence.
This sense of divided appearances between Arsenal’s two main left-backs attests to a desire from Emery to bring in a new face to Arsenal’s defence, and at 22 years of age, with international pedigree and attacking impetus in abundance, the Spaniard has picked his man to arrive at The Emirates – for Emery, this man is Kieran Tierney.
The club have not been afraid of shelling out for marquee players in the past, with the arrivals of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang illustrating the North London outfit’s ability in the market to flex their muscle, but whilst income from the Champions League remains absent and the club maintain their quest for a first trophy of the post-Arsene Wenger era, an alteration in transfer strategy is evidently on the horizon at The Emirates.
Reported moves for the likes of James Maddison seem surprising given the club’s clear desire to operate in a manner that represents greater economic efficiency, but Tierney unquestionably holds the potential to give Arsenal’s defence a new dimension of attacking ability alongside some steely defence that is certainly much-needed in North London.
The upcoming Premier League campaign will be a vital season in not just the career of Emery, but in the development of Arsenal on both the stages of domestic and European football.
They came so close in the Europa League only to come crashing back down to reality in Baku, but if Tierney is to arrive at The Emirates alongside shrewd additions with less ego and more talent, then there is no reason that the Gunners cannot re-establish the club as a heavyweight in the division.
For now though, a revised bid for Tierney can be expected to arrive in Scotland, and for Neil Lennon and Celtic, it may be time to cash in on a prized asset whose time has arrived for a test like no other in the English top-flight.