Alex Song left Arsenal to sign for Barcelona in August 2012, but his time in North London has left a lasting impression on him.
Song has struggled to find his best form at the Nou Camp which is unsurprising because he was never going to play the same number of games as the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and other stars at the Spanish champions.
That’s prompted speculation of a potential return to Arsenal but in an interview with the BBC, he had some words of encouragement for Arsene Wenger’s side in another area.
“When you are 16 or 17, they give you the chance to become one of the best players in the world,” said Song in the fascinating interview with the BBC.
That’s a simple statement that could help Arsenal in several different ways, especially as they look to snap up and tie down some of the most talented teenagers from across Europe.
Arsenal have a system and a manager who is extremely experienced in taking young and under developed players before turning them into superstars in their positions.
Two of the best contemporary examples are Song’s Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas, who made his debut for Arsenal aged 16-years-old, and Jack Wilshere, someone who has prospered out of the Arsenal youth ranks.
Football is becoming a game and an industry increasingly dominated by finances, which can see some young players join clubs which aren’t necessarily best for their development simply because they offer a higher wage deal and a bigger contract when a youngster turns 18.
Song is someone who can be trusted because he’s been in the Arsenal system and he knows how Arsene Wenger likes to work.
While Wenger has broken the taboo of not spending big cash on signings with the arrival of Mesut Ozil, it’s also important for the Gunners to be able to maintain a sustainable supply of younger players who form the spine of each generational Arsenal team.
Song is someone that plenty of young players in Spain will listen to because he’s part of one of the best squads of players at Barcelona there has ever been and it’s a situation that Arsenal can benefit from greatly.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald