Kieran Tierney has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal after catching the eye as a leading light in an under-performing team.
The Scotland defender has impressed since joining from Celtic in a £25million deal two years ago, particularly picking up form over the past 12 months.
Mikel Arteta’s team finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League last season, and the Spanish manager is likely to be active in the transfer market before the new campaign, with players leaving as well as arriving.
But the new deal for left-back Tierney, widely reported to be a five-year commitment, means his future is at Emirates Stadium.
Tierney said in an interview on Arsenal’s Facebook page: “It feels amazing. First, it was the manager who came to me and said, ‘We want you to extend your deal’.
“I had a hard first season with injuries and COVID and stuff, but last season it really picked up for me and the club have been brilliant with me so I’m more than happy to extend it, delighted.
“The vision of the club and where it wants to go and the expectations of the club is where I want to be in football. There’s no doubt about it, we’re not where we want to be just now, but we’re going in the right direction.
“The confidence the manager’s given me… when I spoke to him after I signed this contract I said, ‘Thank you so much’.
“He took me when my confidence was at my lowest for sure – 100 per cent the lowest my confidence has felt – after my injury, moving away from home. I was so low and he’s picked me up, he helped me, him and his staff.”
Tierney has already made 62 appearances for Arsenal, winning the FA Cup in 2020, and the 24-year-old brings attacking qualities that complement his defending, creating 31 chances for others in 27 league outings last season.
That was the highest number among Arsenal defenders, and only twice in the past 15 years has a Gunners defender created more scoring opportunities (Hector Bellerin 33 in 2017-18, Gael Clichy 32 in 2008-09).
Of those he created last term in the league, five were defined as ‘big chances’ by Opta, while Tierney also won possession 115 times, one of three Arsenal defenders to hit triple figures in that metric (Rob Holding 138, Gabriel Magalhaes 118).
Coming off a group-stage exit with Scotland at Euro 2020, Tierney can find solace in his club seeing him as a cornerstone of their future.
Arteta said: “This is great news for us today. As manager of the club, speaking on behalf of the coaching staff and the entire staff, it’s a pleasure to work with KT. His quality, energy, commitment and professionalism, not only on matchdays, but every day in training are always at such a high level.
“KT gives us so much extra strength both defensively and offensively and it’s great to know that he’ll be with us for the long term. Since his move from Celtic, his work ethic and quality has ensured that he is already one of most exciting players in the Premier League and a hugely important part of our team, both on and off the pitch.”