So this week has seen the departure of Alex Song. In some corners this has come as a surprise, and to others, it was the inevitable waiting to happen. I recently met Alex on holiday in Vegas. Like a kid in a candy store I was, excited to see one of our players who gets my support week in week out. So we spoke for a few minutes discussing how our holidays where going and moments from last season. As I walked away saying, I very foolishly said “I’ll see you back at the Emirates, good luck in pre season”. Boy where my choice of words so wrong!
With Song no longer a Gooner, how will he be remembered? The creative defensive midfielder? The ill disciplined defensive midfielder? I think Song perfectly can be perfectly defined as the oxymoron of a defensive midfielder, and it is for this reason, he will not be missed from the heart of Arsenals midfield. For years, the heart of the Arsenal midfield has thrived on having a bullish, industrious, working midfield that was the engine room for the fluidity in our style of play.
From the days of Petit & Vieira through to Gilberto &Vieira, it is no coincidence that the recent trophy drought has come due to the lack of inadequate defensive qualities we have possessed in central midfield. The number of times our midfield has been penetrated on the counter attacks through the heart of our midfield has finally got the church bells ringing in Arsene’s ears. For all of Song’s offensive qualities, his lack of defensive responsibility and leadership to show some grit is far to compromising for a team with a much susceptible defence.
Make no mistake about it, credit where it’s due, Song has already surpassed his own expectations to his own playing level. For a player starting at Bastia, to a loan spell at Charlton, to that shambolic performance against Fulham where he was substituted at half time, to the defensive midfielder with a double tally of assists, and now finding himself at Barcelona, I truly believe Song, at such a young age, has placed his career at an unnecessary cross road.
Will he displace Busquets in the defensive midfield position? No. Does he offer more defensive cover then Mascherano? No. Are Song’s offensive qualities really needed at a club averaging around 3 goals a game? No. So it begs the question, what awaits Mr. Song at Barcelona? A squad player, a versatile player is what Song will offer Barcelona, but like many before him, he will find this status will always make him a player that Barcelona can afford to not have in a couple of seasons time.
Will constant bad time keeping to training, as reported, be taken more leniently at Barcelona then it was at Arsenal? Will positional relapses cost him he’s place in the team, something which was well over looked at Arsenal? Will he result in the same fate as Hleb? Will he become another journeyman through Europe? So many questions will need to be answered to justify Song being a Barcelona player, and shifting his game to the next level will have to be a do or die.
One thing is for sure, Song will win titles at Barcelona, and regardless of whether he starts games or is benched, it may just overshadow whether Alex was able to make the grade at the worlds greatest ever team.
Written by Amit Klaire
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