Laurent Koscielny has rejected the idea that Arsenal need to sign a new right-back after Hector Bellerin suffered a ruptured cruciate knee ligament against Chelsea on Saturday.
The north London club have confirmed the Spaniard’s recovery will “take between six to nine months,” so he is definitely out for the remainder of 2018-19.
As a result, head coach Unai Emery will need to call on Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Stephan Lichtsteiner to deputise.
Koscielny, 33, is confident the pair have enough quality to cover for the remainder of the campaign, per Sky Sports (h/t Malik Ouzia of the Evening Standard):
“We have some players who can play right-back. We have one young [Maitland-Niles] and one old but with experience [Lichtsteiner]. So no [we don’t need to sign anyone], I think we have the players. They played some games this season in the position and they played well. We are all together. Whichever player plays will give 100 per cent for the team and to have the best result for the club.”
Despite Koscielny’s confidence in Maitland-Niles and Lichtsteiner, they are not at the same level as Bellerin, who started vs. Chelsea for the first time since returning from another injury picked up against Southampton on December 16.
Lichtsteiner, 35, has struggled somewhat since moving to Arsenal from Juventus in the summer.
Age seems to be catching up with him, and he does not provide anything like the attacking threat Bellerin does.
Meanwhile, Maitland-Niles, 21, is not a natural right-back, preferring to play as a winger or central midfielder.
As explained by Squawka’s Mohamed Moallim, Bellerin is arguably the player in the Arsenal squad that Emery will find it most difficult to replace.
He provides vital balance to Sead Kolasinac on the left side of defence and is essential to Arsenal’s attacking movement, as well as their defensive shape:
Emery admitted earlier this month that Arsenal can only make loan signings in the January transfer window.
Given how important Bellerin is to the side the Gunners should arguably be looking to get in someone with similar attributes to help them in their pursuit of a top-four Premier League finish.
But Koscielny believes the replacements already in the Arsenal squad are adequate for the remainder of the season.