Sead Kolasinac signs for Arsenal from Schalke on free transfer
Arsenal have announced the signing of left-back Sead Kolasinac from Schalke on a five-year contract, the club's first addition of the summer.
Kolasinac, 23, will join on a free transfer when his Schalke deal expires, having chosen Arsenal following reported interest from AC Milan and Everton.
"I'm happy to have signed at Arsenal for five years and I'm really pleased," Kolasinac told Arsenal's official website. "Arsenal has a huge tradition and I followed the club as a young boy, in the days of Jens Lehmann and Thierry Henry. Arsenal has always been a club that is well recognised in Europe and I'm pleased to be here."
Arsenal said in a statement: "Subject to the completion of all regulatory processes, the defender will start preseason training in July."
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international will strengthen Arsene Wenger's defensive options and provide competition for Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs, whose future has been the subject of conjecture.
Monreal has said he wants to stay at Arsenal for the remainder of his contract despite the arrival of Kolasinac.
Kolasinac is a physical defender who excels in one-on-one situations and also has the capacity to make raids forward and deliver crosses into the box. He has been deployed both as a left-back and wing-back, meaning he would fit in well in the back-three formation that Wenger deployed in the final weeks of the season.
"There are different positions but I think left-back is where I feel most comfortable. I can play as part of a three at the back too or further forward. I'm really flexible," he said. "I think my main strength is my mentality. I'm a player who will try to help the team as well as I can."
Kolasinac also took to Facebook to say goodbye to the Schalke supporters.
"Hi friends, hi fans," he wrote. "There's been a lot of discussions and talk over the past few weeks. My contract with my mates at Schalke is set to expire this month and I had a lot of sleepless nights in the past few months as I weighed up my options. Because, to be honest: You are incredible! It's unbelievable how you backed me in the last couple of years. And I thank you for that.
"All of the Ruhrpott [Ruhr Area] was incredible. And I have become one of yours in the past six years, starting with the under-19 championship up until today. Everyone who lost his heart to the Pott will become a part of it and never forget his home away from home.
"Like I've said, I was torn in the past months. But I have now made up my mind, and you deserve to hear it from me: I will continue my career in London at Arsenal FC. It hurts to leave Gelsenkirchen, but Arsenal and Arsene Wenger offer me the chance to show myself in an international competition.
"Every boy has to leave his home one day to breathe new life into him. And I had several financially good offers already in the past winter. I turned down everything, and I always was open towards my club, and I struggled with how my career should continue. You all know that I had a minor injury, but I fought for my club in every match to realise the maximum success at Schalke.
"Schalke 04 will remain in my heart. And I thank you. I thank you for your encouragement, your love, the strength you have given to me. I will never forget this in my life. I promise you that much. I made many, many people here who I now call my friends. And I would like to thank one in particular, who has been much more than just a friend because he shaped me into the one I am on the pitch today: [Schalke academy coach] Norbert Elgert! Thank you! And I will definitely visit you if I am fortunate enough to play in Germany with the Gunners one day. Your Seo."
Schalke added on their Twitter account: "Good luck in the future and thank you for six great years."
Arsenal had been widely expected to add a long-term replacement for Monreal this summer and signing Kolasinac on a free transfer should free up more funds to strengthen the team's attack.
Wenger has said he aims to sign one or two "top-class" additions this summer, with speculation mounting that Arsenal are preparing a huge bid for Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.