Much has been made of QPR midfielder Joey Barton going to university to take a degree in philosophy, but Barton clearly isn't the smartest player in British football - that title surely belongs to Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini.
Flamini wasn't that popular when he left Arsenal in 2008 for AC Milan. He'd seen out his contract, of course. He always does - and then moves on. It's part of his cunning life plan - one that will doubtless see him retire a very rich man.
Mathieu Flamini, now 29, is not only the consummate professional footballer, he is without doubt the smartest player in British football. You see, he worked out years ago that if he signed a series of fixed-term contracts with high-profile clubs, he could move on at the end of each as a free agent - doubtless picking up sizable sign-ons on the way in lieu of his new club shelling out a huge transfer free.
Flamini joined Arsenal first time around on a free transfer from French club Olympique Marseille in 2004. Four years later, it was another free to AC Milan, before Flamini returned to Arsenal during the summer (on another free).
Rumour has it that, although Flamini has an agent, most of his professional help comes from his lawyer, who is said to be expert at drawing up water-tight employment contracts that enable the player to move on without fuss when they expire. Smart guy.
Now Flamini's return to Arsenal was met with a mixed response from Arsenal fans (although he was probably a surrogate for manager Arsene Wenger, who was in the line of fire at the time over his summer transfer dealings), but Flamini's performances this season have already silenced any doubters, and there is genuine optimism that in Flamini Arsenal have found someone with exceptional leadership qualities who can be the rock the club needs in midfield.
'Flamini has helped reignite the fire within the club', one Arsenal fan told Here is The City.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald