Stephan Lichtsteiner became the first official signing of the Unai Emery era after completing his free transfer from Juventus. As with Remi Garde in 1996, this is a practical signing that is often made at the start of a managerial tenure, and one that we all hope will strengthen our squad and help rebuild our ever-diminishing winning DNA.
Remi Garde joined Arsenal on the same day as Patrick Vieira and would go on to complete 45 appearances and make a solid contribution to our 1997/98 double winning success. As a reliable deputy to our near superhuman first team, Remi Garde played his role. However, Stephan Lichtsteiner needs to do more than “play his role” as unlike Garde, he is joining a talented but dysfunctional group under serious pressure to justify being one of Europe’s highest paid set of playing staff. Not only does Unai Emery need him to give us 15-20 unyielding performances, but he needs him to enrich our winning mentality and help nurture the increasingly enigmatic Hector Bellerin and dare him to become the next Phillip Lahm.
I am confident he is the man for the job. As an international captain and serial winner, he can help us rebuild the mindset needed to sustain the right level of competitiveness for a full season. The current Arsenal squad is short of players who have won a league title in one of Europe’s top leagues. The current list includes:
– Petr Cech – 4 x Premier League Titles – (Chelsea)
– Danny Welbeck – 2 x Premier League Titles – (Manchester United)
– Mesut Ozil – 1 x La Liga Title – (Real Madrid)
Stephan Lichtsteiner shoots to the top of that list with seven Serie A titles with Juventus emphasising the important role his experience could play for us this season. Although some may point to the lack of competitiveness in Serie A, winning is winning and it enriches the winning DNA of a team.
A word of caution from Father Time
Although I am a believer of the young/old squad blueprint where players at the tail end of their careers reliably deliver solid performances, there is a fine line between an Oleg Luhzny and a Mikel Silvestre. No one can tell when Father Time has caught up with a player, but with a solid career with no major injuries, I’m quietly optimistic with this signing and pray he can leave a bigger mark than Mr Garde.
Good luck Stephan.