Arsene Wenger knows Alex Song best

Alex Song swapped the perpetual rain of North London for the sunshine of Barcelona last summer but it hasn’t been as bright as he’d have imagined.

Alex Song had developed into a creative and dominant force in the Gunners’ midfield over the course of the 6 years he spent with Arsenal under the guidance of manager Arsene Wenger.

When he first arrived there were doubts that he had the capability to be a first-team regular at a Premier League club but Wenger stuck with him and the perseverance paid off.

So much so that the Catalans came calling at the end of last term. Last season, the Cameroon international made 46 appearances for the Gunners, scored one goals and made 14 assists from his defensive midfield position.

This term, his debut La Liga season, he’s made just 28 appearances, only 19 starts, scored one goal and made one assist. He has even featured out of his preferred position, providing cover as a centre-back in Tito Villanova’s backline.

He was recently unveiled, along with Luka Modric of Real Madrid, as one of the Spanish top tiers biggest flops. Subsequently, there has been speculation that both former North London residents regret believing the grass would be greener abroad.

However, Arsene Wenger believes he knows best when it comes to his former protégé for whom he clearly still has an abundance of admiration. A return to the Emirates for the 25-year-old has been mooted recently.

However, when the question was put to the Frenchman, he answered candidly with a resounding dismissal that Song could return.

"There is no buy-back [clause] in his contract. I heard he wants to give it a go for another season, which you can understand because it's the first season. I think he's a quality player and sometimes the players have to insist when it doesn't go well and not change his mind too soon,” explained Wenger.

“My personal advice for him would be to give it another go and after two seasons he can still make a decision."

Fittingly, Song would be wise to take his former mentor’s advice and remain in Barcelona – for now, at least. My personal belief is that Wenger probably hadn’t considered selling Song at all up until Barca’s £15 million bid came through to test Arsenal’s resolve which, frankly, isn’t that hard these days.

Money talks and so do Barcelona – Song would have had his head turned by the temptation of playing for arguably the best football team in the world. That is the stuff of dreams and who could begrudge him his opportunity to make it a reality?

Unfortunately, as he is now finding out, the reality is very different from what the imagination can conjure up. It’s a shame it’s not worked out for him and I’m sure Wenger would have preferred to keep him but, alas, Arsenal have moved on and it seems as though Alex Song should too. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess but he will eventually find his place in the sun.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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