Arsenal FC: Why Arsene Wenger Must Convince Alex Song to Stay
There are two plays which I think about when someone mentions Alex Song. The first one came against Everton in 2011 when the Cameroonian lofted an inch-perfect long ball onto the left boot of Robin van Persie, who pounded in a volley for one of the best goals of the season.
The other came in January of this year in Thierry Henry's first match of his Arsenal return. Against Leeds United in the FA Cup Song played a perfectly accurate through ball to Henry, who finished with his trademark: the open body finish to the far post.
But isn't there something wrong with both these stories?
Neither of these moments are actually his. If you ask an Arsenal fan about van Persie's wonder goal against Everton, very few will tell you that it was Song's beautifully weighted ball. And remind an Arsenal fan of King Henry's return and there will hardly be any Song mentions amid the gleeful Henry singing.
This captures a good deal of what Alex Song was at Arsenal this past season. He was a big playmaker for Arsenal, but not as blatantly so as Mikel Arteta was. Van Persie scored 30 goals in the Premier League season, winning the Golden Boot, but people forget how many of those goals were fairly straightforward finishes, thanks to Theo Walcott and Song.
In the 10-11 season, he had already shown Arsenal fans how he could defend. But in 11-12, he showed not only that, but also qualities that aren't always attributed to defensive midfielders: vision, as well as great long ball ability.
He had by far his best season yet, starting 34 of 38 games, and was one of the Gunners' most important players.
That's why I was shocked when I heard about him going to Barcelona. At the beginning, I thought it was just another rumour that has almost the chance of actually happening, but it is entirely possible, according to The Mirror, as well as a few other sources.
ESPN reports that Barcelona's very own Sergio Busquets "talked up Song's quality" and "would welcome a move for Arsenal's Alex Song by the Catalan club."
There is no doubt in my mind that Song would fit in very well with the tiki-taka style at Barcelona; he would even add physical presence, a quality that is lacking at Barcelona. However, the one drawback is playing time.
Song would play almost every single game this season for Arsenal, but at the Camp Nou, he may find himself behind Sergio Busquets in Barcelona's star-studded midfield. But there, he will probably win more trophies, and Barcelona could offer him a higher salary.
But for Arsenal, it's crucial that Song stays. Not only because a lot of the attacking spark is because of him, but also because of lack of depth. The second string holding midfielder would be Francis Coquelin, who is great, but if he gets injured, Emmanuel Frimpong will be playing, and he hasn't shown enough maturity to be starting for a team this good. And who knows whether Wilshere will really be back in October?
Of course, if Arsenal do sign Nuri Sahin, Wenger could experiment with the Turk at holding midfielder. Plus, it's entirely possible that Sahin is trying to be signed on loan because le Professeur already knows that Song will be leaving.
But if there is something that Wenger can do about the 24-year-old Cameroonian's future, it would be best that he tries to keep Song in red and white for next season.
There are rumours flying around that Robin van Persie could actually be staying at the Emirates, so at the beginning of next season, he and Song can continue where they left off, Song feeding the beast that is the Dutchman's left foot.
But wherever Song decides to go, there is no doubt that he will be a huge success. I just hope it will be for Arsenal.
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