“I miss England and I want to win the Premier League”, the former French international said.
“It has a special place in my heart. I like the pace and the physicality of English football and I like that every game is very open.”
The AC Milan midfielder was one of the Gunners early defectors back in 2008 long before it became the fashion. He was considered somewhere between a bad egg and traitor by the fans when he ran down his contract with the North Londoners, left on a free transfer and signed for Milan on a €5.6 million four-year contract.
He came to prominence after signing from Marseille in 2004 and forming a formidable partnership with a young Cesc Fabregas – he was part of the same team that won the last trophy for Arsenal, the FA Cup back in 2005 and he was part of the same team that made it to the Champions League final they lost to Barcelona in 2006.
His role in Arsene Wenger’s midfield allowed Fabregas a similar freedom afforded to Steven Gerrard and when Xabi Alonso was at Liverpool and, like his Anfield equivalent, Fabregas never enjoyed quite the same protection after Flamini absconded.
Meanwhile, flash forward to 2013 and Arsenal no longer have Fabregas and they no longer have a recognized defensive midfielder since Alex Song followed the former skipper to the Camp Nou.
The Gunners have been linked with a record-breaking bid for Everton’s Marouane Fellaini but, since it’s initial suggestion, there has been little mentioned about the potential ‘deal’ and it’s not clear whether Wenger is even interested in him at this stage.
Arsenal have also been linked with a big money bid for Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen which was reportedly rejected which would suggest they are indeed looking around the market for a player in Flamini’s position.
Flamini has been without a contract (effectively without a club) since the first of this month and, at 29 years of age, still has gas left in the tank but would Arsenal consider him as an option?
I would anticipate they wouldn’t – given that he pretty much betrayed the club and the manager’s faith in him by leaving for nothing. Incidentally, it wasn’t the first time he’d been accused of betrayal: when he signed for Arsenal, he had already verbally agreed a contract with Marseille, which he did not honour.
Arsenal need a defensive or ‘holding’ midfielder but with the emergence of Mikel Arteta who adapted to that role this term to good effect, perhaps Arsenal don’t actually need to break the transfer record to sign someone, perhaps instead they could just get a player to cover for injuries and suspensions.
Flamini would be ideal for that but I can’t ever see Wenger, the club or the fans forgiving him. One bitten, twice shy. Plus, at any rate, he’s not even that good anymore – that's probably why he doesn’t have a club.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald