Theo Walcott has labelled new Arsenal team-mate Sead Kolasinac an “absolute animal” who will be perfectly at home in the Premier League.
The defender scored his first Gunners goal on his competitive debut for the club as they beat London rivals Chelsea 4-1 on penalties – following a 1-1 draw – to lift the Community Shield.
Kolasinac headed home a late equaliser following Pedro’s red card after Victor Moses had put the Blues ahead.
Signed on a free transfer from Schalke, the 24-year-old Kolasinac was named in the Bundesliga team of the year last season.
He started on the bench on Sunday but replaced captain Per Mertesacker, after he suffered a head injury, and impressed with his strength and aggression.
That came as no surprise to Walcott, who also came on as a substitute and scored Arsenal’s first penalty in the shoot-out, and has been admiring the new recruit in training.
“Honestly, he is an absolute animal,” he said of Kolasinac.
“He’s incredible. I see him in the gym every day, you can just tell he looks after himself well, he eats the right food and he’s professional.
“You can see the power he’s got when he’s got the ball, his pace and everything. It’s beautiful to watch and he’s a great addition to the squad.
“Trust me he’s not easy to get around (in training) – he’s quite wide as well. He fits perfectly for the Premier League, he’s absolutely perfect.
“He’s going to show something different, I’ve seen glimpses of him in pre-season and he’s going to get fitter, stronger and quicker. This league is the best and I think he could be one of the best in this league.”
In a summer where full-backs have become big business, securing Kolasinac’s signature for free could be seen as a shrewd move by manager Arsene Wenger.
Kyle Walker left Tottenham for Manchester City in a £45million deal, while Benjamin Mendy joined the England defender at the Etihad Stadium following a £49.4million switch from Monaco.
“It says it all really,” added Walcott when asked if Kolasinac could prove a bargain in the current market.
Kolasinac is now likely to start Arsenal’s Premier League opener at home to Leicester on Friday night.
Wenger’s side have won just one of their opening fixtures over the last seven seasons, but Walcott is hoping for an all-round improvement this time around.
“Every season we tend to start the league not so well but being a Friday night I think a night game might be better for us,” he said.
“It’s a bit different, it’s new for us, the fans will be up for it obviously. You’ve got to be patient sometimes with this formation we’re playing, you play a different style of football, that’s what we’re learning still and we’re getting better.
“It’s going to be different for us this year but it’s how we react and it’s as simple as that, we can’t really dwell on the past anymore and we need to focus on our strengths.
“We’re starting to learn this new system and obviously had a good run of games in the last 10 games of last season. We’re still slowly learning it and it’s working for now, and we’ll see if it continues to.”