On Wednesday, Arsenal confirmed the capture of Juventus right-back, Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer. The 34-year-old makes the switch to North London as his contract with the Serie A champions came to an end on the 1st of June. The right-back becomes Unai Emery’s first signing as Arsenal manager. The Swiss international joins Héctor Bellerín as the only other right-back in the senior squad.
Here’s why Héctor Bellerín should be worried following Stephan Lichtsteiner’s arrival.
Perhaps due to his steady work rate and plain style of play, Stephan Lichtsteiner has never truly received the plaudits he deserves. In an era where Dani Alves and Phillippe Lahm have been heralded as the best, Stephan Lichtsteiner’s exploits in Italy have seemingly gone unnoticed.
But, let’s look at his CV.
Whether the masses want to accept it or not, Lichtsteiner is one of the most successful players in the modern era. In his illustrious career, the 34-year-old has won;
- 7 Serie A titles
- 5 Italian Cups
- 4 Italian Super Cups
- 1 Swiss Championship
On top of that, Lichtsteiner has participated in two World Cups and two Euro Championships. It’s this level of pedigree that he’ll bring to Arsenal, something that all of Héctor Bellerín’s youthful exuberance cannot provide.
For every department Héctor Bellerín lacks in, Lichtsteiner excels in. Let’s take, for example, mentality. Héctor Bellerín has been cited in recent seasons to display a weak mentality, in which he hides in the shadows when his Arsenal teammates are in need of a leader.
Stephan Lichtsteiner has proven time and time again in a team full of big characters that he’s one to step up through his actions when his team needed him most. He may not be the most vocal of personalities, but his actions have always led by example.
Secondly, let’s look at positioning. Due to his deployment as a right wing-back for the majority of his career, Lichtsteiner has learnt how to position himself according to the positions of his teammates. The selfless swiss international is always the one to cover for his teammates when their ill-discipline nature takes over their movement patterns. This is exactly what the Gunners need, someone who values the importance of positional play over constant attacking intent.
Stephan Lichtsteiner is a shrewd signing by Unai Emery as he provides much-needed squad depth to Arsenal’s defensive department. The departure of Mathieu Debuchy in January left Héctor Bellerín as Arsenal’s only right-back, Lichtsteiner changes that.
Now, whenever the Spaniard puts in a sub-par performance, he knows there’s legitimate competition to take his place Competition breeds excellence and squad depth will provide the Gunners with the best platform to compete on all four fronts next season.
Héctor Bellerín should be worried by the arrival of Stephan Lichtsteiner because it could literally spell the end of his Arsenal career. No longer will Bellerín’s mediocrity be accepted at the Emirates. Instead, he will have to produce his best football to hold down a starting XI place. And if he doesn’t Emery will have no problem shipping him off abroad.