In a transfer window that is set to break records for the level of spending, Arsène Wenger has at least shown there is still value in the market.
The Arsenal boss has managed to secure the signing of Sead Kolašinac on a free transfer from Schalke and, despite it being early days, the move appears to be a masterstroke.
The Bosnian has only turned out for the Gunners a handful of times, but he has quickly become a firm favourite with the fans.
His crucial equalising goal during Arsenal’s Community Shield victory over Chelsea at Wembley made sure of that, but in truth it is the wing-back’s style of play that has really got supporters talking.
“You have players who are pumped up in the gym and players who were born strong – he is the second part,” says Wenger. While Theo Walcott admits: “He is an absolute animal. He’s incredible.”
Arsenal fans have quickly learned how Kolašinac has picked up nicknames such as ‘The Bosnian Hulk’ and ‘The Tank’ during his career.
The wing-back is immensely physical in his style of play, combining his strength in the tackle with lung-bursting runs up the left flank.
During both the Emirates Cup and Community shield, Kolašinac treated supporters to glimpses of this and he is settling quicker than expected to the style of English football.
“In the Premier League power plays a part, but it’s not only that. I also took him because of his attitude,” says Wenger.
“The modern game doesn’t tolerate many weaknesses any more. It’s always a combination of talent and attitude.
“He looks to me like he has good talent but also a very strong and determined attitude, supported by a strong body.
“He’s gone from strength to strength. He started a bit nervous, but in every single week he’s moved his level up.
“He looks powerful and also the timing of his availability going forward looks good.”
During the early stages of his career, Kolašinac was deployed in a number of different positions. Indeed, he cropped up at left-back, in the centre of midfield and the heart of defence.
However, it was as a wing-back at Schalke last season that the Bosnian finally found where he belongs. The 24-year-old finished up the campaign with five assists, more than any other defender in the Bundesliga, and it his attacking threat that could give Arsenal a new dimension this year.
Kolašinac's style is a stark contrast to your typical ‘Arsenal player’. He is strong and direct, and this blunt approach should act as a perfect compliment to the Gunners’ classically methodical build-up.
Against Chelsea the Bosnian was forced to fill in at centre-back, but it is out wide on the left that he will be of most use to Wenger this season. With Nacho Monreal now 31, Arsenal need to find an heir to the Spaniard and in Kolašinac they appear to have found one.
Wenger admitted after the Community Shield he was reluctant to pick Kolašinac in his starting XI for the match at Wembley.
The Arsenal boss has a wealth of experience when it comes to giving foreigners time to adapt to life in England and he is wary of the difficulties that come with it.
“I had a hesitation to play him from the start because it was Wembley and the pressure,” he said. “But when he came on he was outstanding.”
However, Kolašinac looks made for English football and he is being made to feel at home by new team-mate Granit Xhaka.
“What made things easier [when I arrived] was that I had a lot of players here with whom I could speak to in German,” says Kolašinac.
“There are a few players who have helped me with things like where to live, where to go out in the evening. The team have really helped me.
“After I signed, Granit sent me a message and that pleased me. It made it easier to come here because you get to a new club and don’t know anyone, which makes it exciting and nerve-wracking.
“It was nice to have had contact with him before and I was happy that he sent me a message. I’ve had contact with him over WhatsApp since, and it definitely made things easier for me.”
It all makes for a very promising start for a player who was likened to a tree by his former boss Jens Keller. Indeed, from the outside, it looks as though Kolašinac is planting the roots ahead of a fruitful spell at Arsenal.