The Cameroon international’s future is up in the air with the midfielder being speculated with a return to north London – but do the Gunners need him?
Arsene Wenger invoked widespread questioning after his decision to sell Alex Song to Barcelona last summer, with the lack of a designated midfield enforcer replacement a perceived weakness in the Arsenal team.
However, with the Gunners sitting pretty on the top of the Premier League table and with two wins from two Champions League games, this season has started exceptionally well for the north Londoners. One of the main reasons behind this is the midfield options available to the French coach.
Song has failed to establish himself in the Barcelona set-up due to the stellar amount of talent in the Catalan club’s squad, with his future at the Spanish side in question after only a year of his contract. There have been rumblings in both England and Spain that the African midfielder could well be keen on a return to Arsenal in a search for more-regular first-team football.
However, ironically, the return of another ex-Arsenal battler in the form of Mathieu Flamini means that Song is unlikely to move back to the Emirates Stadium. The French midfielder has slotted seamlessly back into Wenger’s squad and has given his side the bit of steel that could be needed to win tight games. The fact that he arrived on a free transfer also meant that Wenger avoided the transfer fee needed to bring someone like Song back to the club.
As it stands, without Song’s return, there is a fight for places in the Gunners’ boiler room already. Aaron Ramsey is virtually undroppable at the moment due to his stellar September form, while Mikel Arteta has returned from injury. With Jack Wilshere to pick from also, when the likes of Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott are available again, one of the three central players is likely to be omitted from the starting XI.
There is no doubting Song’s ability and in the season before his departure he was one of the side’s best players. Athletic, technically able and with a solid range of passing, Song’s addition would certainly strengthen most teams. However, with Flamini already at the club as the recognised defensive midfielder of the contingent and Arteta’s deep-lying tendencies, it looks like there is no room for the African.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald