Arsenal to re-sign Flamini for free – good or bad move?

Flamini Arsenal

The Gunners are reported to be ready to bring their former midfielder back to the club after he was released by AC Milan.

Arsene Wenger looks set to add an extra option to his depleted midfield by resigning former player Mathieu Flamini, who is available on a free transfer.

The 29-year-old’s contract at AC Milan expired earlier this summer, and Flamini has been working at Arsenal's London Colney training ground for the past two weeks.

Although it is apparent that the north London club need reinforcements before the end of the transfer window, is a move for Flamini a positive thing?

The three-times capped France international caused something of a stir by opting to leave the north London club back in the summer of 2008. After a slow start in England following a move from Marseille in 2004, Flamini established himself as a regular in the Gunners’ starting XI, and showed fantastic combative ability and box-to-box play in his final season at the club.

Despite Arsenal being keen for Flamini to extend his contract, the midfielder opted instead to move to AC Milan on a free transfer, inciting some of the Gunners fans and proving as a frustration for Arsene Wenger. It could be argued that Flamini’s exit was the first of a handful of players that opted against extending their stay at the Emirates to move elsewhere, with Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie etc all jumping ship in subsequent off-seasons.

Despite the slight betrayal, Wenger will more than likely have no hard feelings towards the boyhood AC Milan fan. Whether Flamini still has the ability to perform like he did in his final season at Arsenal remains to be seen.

The Frenchman’s time in Italy was not deemed as an overwhelming success, as he struggled to assert himself as a guaranteed starter for the Rossoneri. Last season he made 18 appearances in Serie A, 15 as a starter. Arguably the best season of Flamini’s career was the 2007/08 campaign before he left Arsenal, and he was failed to live up to this in his time in Italy.

On the flip side of the coin, there are some positives to bringing Flamini back. He is obviously an experienced player and if a move was sealed before noon on Friday he would be eligible to feature against Fulham on Saturday. With the Arsenal squad plagued by injuries, having an extra player that has played extensively in the Premier League before to call on would be a bonus.

Flamini’s addition would not involve a transfer fee, and the player’s versatility may well come in handy. The 29-year-old often slotted in at full-back for the Gunners in his first tenure at the club, and to have that option there will be a reassurance.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it may be that Flamini now regrets leaving Arsenal in the first place. The north London club’s fans’ reaction to him rejoining after five seasons away will be interesting.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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