Flamini made a name for himself in the 2007-08 season for Arsenal by displacing Gilberto Silva in the midfield and forming a formidable partnership with Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb and Tomas Rosicky, who were all close friends off the pitch, too.
The Arsenal board failed to successfully negotiate a new deal for Flamini and let the utility man sign for AC Milan as a free agent on May 5, 2008, much to the dismay of the Emirates faithful who had grown fond of Flamini’s powerful displays.
Flamini had established his versatility during the 2005-06 campaign when he deputised for the injured Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy at left-back. Though being right-footed, Flamini became instrumental in Arsenal’s efforts to reach the Champions League final, which they eventually lost 2-1 to Barcelona.
What set Flamini apart was his high stamina, fervent will to win and providing defensive stability for players like Fabregas, Rosicky and Hleb so they could push forward.
Flamini had mixed fortunes during his stay at the Rossoneri, finding it difficult at first to break into the first team under Carlo Ancelotti. His preferred position is defensive midfield, so he had players like Massimo Ambrosini, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf in front of him to contend with—an intimidating prospect for any player.
However, his major breakthrough came at right-back, when Milan struggled to find defensive stability. Ancelotti moved Gianluca Zambrotta to left-back to accommodate Flamini easier.
The 2010-11 season was his most successful for Milan as he was an integral figure in midfield in winning the Scudetto. He missed the entire campaign last season, however, as he required an operation to repair his anterior cruciate ligament on his right knee.
Already there have been suggestions on various blogs that Flamini could come back to the Emirates, joining Lukas Podolski and (eventually) Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal do need another defensive midfielder to assist Alex Song and give Emanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin more time to develop.
Yann M’Vila has been strongly linked for some time, and the player has even admitted that he would like to join Arsenal, but he comes with a hefty price tag and no experience in the Premier League.
While Podolski and Giroud have no familiarity with the English game either, the German centurion’s style of play already befits a Premier League striker. Giroud’s exploits in Ligue One last season, and his 6'4" frame, suggest he should adapt quickly.
Arsenal will need a player who can hit the ground running and provide results. The Emirates can ill afford another start to a season like the 2011-12 campaign. Flamini can be that player who could slot right back into the team and give a bit more grit in the defence. The Frenchman still has friends in Bacary Sagna, Robin van Persie, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott and Song who were at the club when Flamini was.
It would be a shrewd piece of business by Wenger if he were to contact Flamini, and would allow funds to be used on improving the contract of van Persie, which is of paramount importance this summer.