As far back as last Winter, Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin begun agitating for a move from the club if he did not get first team opportunities.
The 22-year-old played in four out of five Premier League games in a busy December period, but after January 20, just made one appearance from the bench before the season ended, and that only lasted two minutes.
Coquelin did have his moments though, an excellent performance in an FA Cup replay win over Swansea at the Emirates a highlight of his potential as a defensive midfielder.
So given the club's lack of depth at the position it was perhaps a little surprising he was allowed to go on loan to Bundesliga club Freiburg, but Arsene Wenger clearly felt that regular football for the midfielder was best for both club and player in the long-run.
Arsenal re-signed former player Mathieu Flamini instead, who has turned in several impressive performances, washing away original fan discontent at his signature.
We decided to take a look at both Flamini and Coquelin's exploits so far this season to see how they compared.
Flamini was not available for Arsenal's opening three games of the season but has been essential ever since, making six starts and one substitute appearances. At Freiburg, Francis Coquelin has been equally indispensible, making six starts and two substitute appearances, including Europa League football.
Flamini has helped inspire Arsenal to instant success. They top of the Premier League table with 16 points from a possible 21, while have maximum points from their Champions League group. They are unbeaten since Flamini arrived.
Over in Germany, Coquelin could not be having more contrasting fortunes. Freiburg were last season's surprise package, finishing fifth in the Bundesliga. This year is looking disastrous as they sit with just four points in 17th in the relegation zone. In the Europa League they have fared little better, with one point from a possible six.
Flamini has been the modicum of calm for Arsenal, helping them maintain possession and supplying the team's attacking players to do the damage. He has made 281 successful passes in the Premier League to date, at an accuracy of 92.9 per cent. Coquelin meanwhile in a similar time on the pitch has made just 116 passes in the Bundesliga, at an accuracy of just 70.7 per cent, only the 17th highest in the Freiburg squad. Flamini has made an average of 56 passes per game in contrast to Coquelin's 19.
There are no goals and no assists for either player. Coquelin has created four goalscoring opportunies, in comparison to two from Flamini.
Tackling and Interceptions
Flamini has recorded 11 tackles in Premier League matches, an average of 2.2 per game. This is the third highest in the Arsenal team. He has seven interceptions which is also the sixth highest among his fellow Gunners.
At Freiburg, loanee Francis Coquelin has recorded just three tackles in his six Bundesliga matches, an average of 0.5 per game, the 15th highest among his teammates. He has made five interceptions, 11th against his peers.
Flamini has been a regular name in the referee's notebook, picking up four bookings early into his Arsenal return. He has however managed to avoid any more serious punishment. Coquelin was not so lucky, he was sent off in just his second Bundesliga game for two yellow cards. Since then he has picked up just one booking.
Other notable statistics
Flamini has blocked a higher average number of shots per game than any Arsenal player barring Bacary Sagna. His 22 of 23 long balls played is also the highest of any outfield player.
Analysis: Francis Coquelin had begged for further opportunites at Arsenal but his early progress at a struggling Freiburg side shows just why Arsene Wenger decreed him not to be ready.
Figures like 70 per cent pass completion, and just three tackles made all season are plainly awful for a defensive midfielder, put in the shade on both counts by the excellent Mathieu Flamini.
The decision to re-sign the experienced midfielder and letting a young up-and-come like Coquelin was criticised, but once again the Arsenal manager has shown simply why he knows best.
Are you happy with Wenger's decision?
image: © wonker