As league leaders Arsenal continue to march on in their quest to win a first Premier League title since 2004, one man who has largely been a bystander to proceedings is defender, Kieran Tierney, with the Scotland international seemingly facing an uncertain future at the Emirates Stadium.
The 25-year-old had initially impressed after joining from Glasgow giants Celtic on a £25m deal back in 2019, having been described as a “leader” and a “warrior” by former Gunners man Ashley Cole as a result of his early showings in north London.
Having also been lauded as “incredible” by manager Mikel Arteta back in 2020, the dynamic left-back had appeared set for a bright future at the club, albeit with injury having routinely curtailed his chances of enjoying a run in the side.
As for the current campaign, despite having been largely available for selection, the £110k-per-week man has been usurped by summer signing Oleksandr Zinchenko as the club’s starting option on the left side of the defence, having started just four league games this season.
That lack of action has sparked suggestion that the former Hoops star is now considering his future with the club ahead of the summer transfer window, with Newcastle United reportedly one of the clubs who are interested in signing the 35-cap machine – for a fee of around £30m.
Should Tierney be ditched ahead of next season, Arteta and co could well save the club millions by unearthing a dream replacement from the academy ranks, with 18-year-old Lino Sousa one such talent who has caught the eye at Hale End.
Who could replace Tierney at Arsenal?
The teen sensation has been making waves in the youth set-up since signing from West Bromwich Albion back in January 2022, having been lauded as “outstanding” by former youth coach Kevin Betsy last year.
The Lisbon-born sensation – who has represented England at youth level – has already racked up 18 appearances across all fronts so far this season, contributing one assist, having notably been named on the bench by Arteta for the win away at Brentford back in September.
While Sousa is yet to enjoy a taste of competitive, first-team action, the exciting talent has come up against senior opposition in the EFL Trophy run earlier in the campaign, notably averaging one tackle and 1.3 interceptions per game in his three outings in the competition, while also averaging one key pass per game as a marker of his attacking intent.
That record is greater than what Tierney has achieved in the Premier League this season, with the Isle of Man-born menace averaging 0.6 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game, as well as just 0.2 key passes from his 16 appearances.
As The Athletic outlined back in November, young Sousa also offers the benefit of having been coached in the youth ranks to try and replicate Zinchenko’s trait of taking on an inverted full-back position, potentially ensuring that he could prove a more suitable alternative and successor to the Ukraine international.
As such, should Tierney be moved on any time soon, Arteta appears to already have a perfect replacement lined up in the form of the emerging ace.