Unai Emery has identified Stephan Lichsteiner as a team leader in the style of Arsenal legend Tony Adams — and a warrior on the pitch is exactly what the Gunners need.
That’s the verdict of former Arsenal grafter Ray Parlour, who believes the Swiss skipper will provide the leadership qualities said to be so lacking in the latter stages of Arsene Wenger’s time at the Emirates helm.
Back in the day, Wenger’s team could always boast leaders all over the pitch in the shape of central defender Adams, and midfielder generals Patrick Vieira and Manu Petit, with Parlour himself never a shrinking violet when it came to rolling up his selves and mixing it with the opposition.
Now Parlour, forever known by the nickname the Romford Pele by the fans, says the arrival of Lichsteiner can add muscle to the guile and craft always present in Arsenal teams.
Speaking to Paddy Power, he said:
” Lichsteiner is experienced. He’s a leader and he’s obviously played in great teams at Juventus. He’s captained Switzerland as well so he’s probably a character they need at the moment. We’ve lacked a leader over the last two or three years so maybe he’s the one for the dressing room and to be important in that situation.”
Lichsteiner, as a right-back but who is also hugely versatile as he has proved throughout his career, is up against young Spanish defenders Hector Bellerin for the rear-guard position and Emery has a nice problem when it comes to team selection.
But Parlour argues that if anything Bellerin will benefit from the older, wiser Lichsteiner. He added:
“Bellerin might learn from him as well, so you can’t knock those sorts of signings. He’s 34 but he looks after himself and he played 30-odd games for Juventus last season and they’re a top side so he can’t be that bad.”
Parlour says he is impressed with Emery and is confident the club have made the correct choice with his appointment, an appointment which, he says, was always the Gunners hierarchy’s best bet.
“It’s a good appointment. He’s got experience, he knows Europe, he’s done well in the Europa League, and he’s managed big players at PSG. It was the right angle to go for. He was first choice as well – that’s what the guys have told me at Arsenal. He was never in the betting but he was obviously on their list of people who, if available, they were going to go for him.
“People were talking about Mikel Arteta, but I think they wanted to interview everyone just to make sure they got the right man.”
Parlour says it is a really tough job to take after Wenger and that the club need to avoid a scenario like the one that unfolded at Manchester United a few years back. He added:
“We know what happened at Man United when Sir Alex Ferguson left – it doesn’t always work out like that so it’s a massive season for Arsenal. I’m on the pre-season tour so I’m really looking forward to going to Singapore with them and I can’t wait to see the training. Maybe there will be a bit more intensity and he’ll be a bit harder in training on them.”