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Spiky, explosive - but also open-minded: Why Leandro Trossard will surprise many at Arsenal

COMMENT: So will he do it? Leandro Trossard. Will we see him 'do a Souey' at Tottenham before his time with Arsenal is over...?

He may be billed it in some quarters, but Trossard is no second choice at Arsenal. Yeah, the priority was for Mykhaylo Mudryk. A priority that ran on for months. But taking Trossard off Brighton's hands doesn't relegate the Belgian as some consolation prize.

By his own admission, Trossard joins the Gunners in career best form. Indeed, you don't have to take his word for it. Eden Hazard, his World Cup captain, stated as much going into Qatar '22. The Real Madrid attacker conceding on form, Trossard deserved selection ahead of him, "...maybe Leandro deserves it more than I do, yes. But I'm not going to give up so quickly. I would be the first to congratulate Leandro, but I would also do everything I could to win my place back. I am still very hungry: I want to be on the team."

It was largely missed by the English press, but that was the buzz inside Belgian football: Trossard deserved to be playing ahead of the captain. His big match temperament. The on-field leadership. The form and impact he was making for Brighton against the giants of the Premier League. There was a massive groundswell of support at home pushing then Rode Duivels coach Roberto Martinez to start with Trossard in his XI.

And it's those qualities that Trossard brings with him to Arsenal. Just turned 28, the attacker joins a squad of players at London Colney not dissimilar to the dressing room he occupied for four years at Falmer stadium. Arsenal's lot are more talented, sure. But in terms of age. Personality. And experience. The two squads are similar. Where Trossard's leadership and drive would benefit his teammates at Brighton, those same qualities can do something similar for the young locker room at Arsenal.

Trossard hasn't arrived as just one more. He hasn't signed to add depth. To be part of the rotation. Hidden away on the south coast, the status of Brighton means Trossard's exploits are rarely highlighted to the extent of his peers. But he arrives as a proven matchwinner. A game-breaker. And as Paul Scholes, the former Manchester United star, stated, "When Leandro Trossard came on for Gabriel Martinelli (against United on Sunday), I didn't think it weakened Arsenal, it really didn't. So I think Trossard is a great signing."

For those not paying attention, he's going to surprise them. He may even surprise some of his new teammates, just as Aaron Ramsdale stated: "Trossard is coming in to take someone's place in his head, he's not coming to - it might look like he is coming to be part of the squad, deep down like I was with [Bernd] Leno.

"Like I've come to take Leno's pace, he's coming to take one of the front three player's place."

Ramsdale gets Trossard's personality spot on. He joins this Arsenal squad expecting to make a difference. He'll look at the front three and be convinced he can outperform any of them.

Josy Comhair, Trossard's prime agent, relayed as much before Christmas. Confirming that Arsenal had also been keen on his client before his move from Genk, Comhair explained why the decision was made to go with Brighton.

"There were other options. In the same period I had several conversations with Arsenal. Four times they came to Belgium," he recalled. "I'll give you a note: most players would have chosen Arsenal. But what would have happened if Leandro didn't get around to playing?

"Then there is only one way out: take a step back. People don't realise what that triggers in someone's head. I know Leandro: put him on the bench three times and he goes wild. So we turned it around: if he does well at Brighton, he doesn't have to back down, but he can take a step ahead (grins). Haven't we been proved right?"

So there was a career plan. But one that could have only been as successful as it has with the commitment that Trossard has shown these past three years.

Comhair again: "How many times did Philippe Clement, who was Leandro's coach at Genk, tell me: 'Josy, we need to get Leandro in the gym more often!' But he didn't need it, he stood out anyway. It was only at Brighton that he realised the need for this.

"When he comes home from training, another personal coach comes along. He does this on his own initiative, not because the club imposes it on him. He also pays that man out of his own pocket. He leaves nothing to chance."

And he'll listen. To Mikel Arteta. To his staff. As Comhair states, Trossard can be spiky. Explosive. But also receptive. Arteta will be able to count on a player eager to learn and improve - even if it means giving up long held beliefs.

Comhair recalls: "Genk wanted to store him at MVV in the Netherlands. I didn't agree with that: he could already play football like the best. Rolling up his sleeves, that's what he had to learn. You do that in the Belgian second division, not in the Netherlands.

"So I guided him to Lommel. There he met Stijn Vreven, a coach who is short with you. Just what he needed. There has even been a fight. Leandro had always been used to playing centrally, but Stijn saw that differently: 'You're going to play on the left.'

"He was right: Leandro exploded that season. Seventeen goals and thirteen assists. Thanks to Stijn, he came to the realisation that he would not make it with his talent alone."

But what of that 'Souey moment'? Well that was four years ago - almost to the day. Just as Graeme Souness infamously planted a Galatasaray flag in the centre circle of the Fenerbahce pitch. Trossard did the same as captain of Genk after their derby win at STVV. Missiles had been thrown. A supporter bus attacked. And Trossard fought off hometown stewards to take a Genk flag and plant it in the middle of the STVV pitch.

"The fans wanted me to do it," Trossard would later say.

Spiky. Strong-willed. However you describe him. Leandro Trossard hasn't signed for Arsenal to be just one more. He's joined to make a difference. And if it all goes to plan, don't be surprised to see him 'do a Souey' at Spurs in the future...

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