Arsenal FC: What Went Wrong for Marouane Chamakh?
Bordeaux president Jean Louis Triaud told Le 10 Sport (via Sky Sports):
I see he [Chamakh] is not on the score sheet and the media do not talk about him but he says nothing.
Salaries are different in England, but last December I sent him a message to tell him that if you're not happy in London, come home, and that message is still relevant today.
If Yoan Gouffran was scoring goals at the same rate as Wissam Ben Yedder, Triaud would think twice before offering an olive branch to Chamakh, who left Bordeaux high and dry.
This article will delve into Arsène Wenger's pursuit of Chamakh, the Moroccan's early success and what ultimately went wrong for him.
Sliding Doors for Marouane Chamakh
Marouane Chamakh's first foray into professional football coincided with the French Division 1 being renamed Ligue 1.
At the time, the youngster was watching and learning from Pauleta, who was scoring goals at a better strike rate than Bernard Lacombe.
Talking about Lacombe, he's an adviser to Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas, who was desperate to land the then 21-year-old Chamakh in 2005: "We have already made one, big offer for Chamakh. We want him; he's our priority."
This wasn't just any club; Olympique Lyonnais were a dynasty during the 2000s, having won seven consecutive league titles.
Even when Bordeaux finally triumphed in the league, manager Laurent Blanc, audacious playmaker Yoann Gourcuff and rugged centre-back Souleymane Diawara were the ones who were lauded with praise—not Chamakh.
The Moroccan only played 68 percent of Bordeaux's total minutes as he spent portions of the season on the outer looking in.
Though, he did have one unforgettable game in a 4-3 win over Monaco. He came on in the second half, scored two headers and created the match-winning goal for Fernando Cavenaghi.
Hindsight is always handy. What if Chamakh had forced a transfer to Les Gones in 2005?
With service from Juninho, Sidney Govou and Florent Malouda, perhaps Chamakh would have made the transition from serviceable striker to prolific goal scorer.
After eight years with Les Girondins, Chamakh never managed to score 20 goals in one season.
Arsène Wenger's Pursuit of Marouane Chamakh
When Marouane Chamakh was informed about the possibility of being signed by Arsène Wenger, the Bordeaux forward made it clear that he wanted to be a Gunner (via The Telegraph):
If it's Arsenal, so much the better. I am not sleeping as well as I normally do. I made my wish known to the directors at the end of last season. I expressed a wish to join another league.
Patrick Haond at Sky Sports reported that West Ham United were willing to sign Chamakh for £18 million. Though, the Moroccan rebuffed the Hammer's offer, telling France 3 Aquitaine (via FIFA.com): "From a sporting point of view, I prefer to stay at Bordeaux than go to West Ham."
It would explain Bordeaux's president Jean-Louis Triaud's rant at Wenger (via guardian.co.uk):
What I do not like in the behaviour of Arsène Wenger, who is doing this again today. He declared his interest in Chamakh a long time before calling me.
Then he ended up doing so. And now, Mr. Wenger is starting again, starting to put doubt in the mind of the player again. And I don't find that very correct. That said, in January, Marouane will not leave. Even less so on a free transfer.
To provide you some further context to what seems like short-fuse from Triaud, remember that he had lost Sylvain Wiltord to the Gunners under acrimonious circumstances (via BBC Sport):
We had long hoped Wiltord would be a man of his word. To have to [lost] Wiltord is a disappointment in sporting terms. We will miss his talent. But on the human level a lad who does not keep his word has no place at the club.
Having received inflated transfer offers for Chamakh, Triaud refused to cave in to Wenger's demands, who was adamant that Chamakh wasn't worth a fee higher than £7 million.
|Ligue 1 (09-10)||Goals||Shots Per Goal||Assists||Shots Created Per Game|
|Park Chu-Young ||8||6.8||3||1.1|
Wenger's economically efficient transfer policy once again prevailed, as he signed Chamakh on a Bosman in 2010.
Why didn't Triaud just compromise rather than allow Chamakh to go for nothing? Ego.
Bordeaux's president could sleep easier at night knowing Chamakh chose not to renew his contract with club as opposed to being forced to sell Chamakh for a derisive transfer fee.
Was Marouane Chamakh Really That Bad?
Revisionist history will tell you that Marouane Chamakh should be placed in the same sentence as Kaba Diawara.
Chamakh's first season was decent considering his role was to be a backup to Robin van Persie. When the Dutchman was injured, Chamakh was given a chance to showcase his talents.
Let's compare Chamakh's performances during the 2010-11 Premier League season to other forwards who spent significant chunks of their season as a backup.
|EPL (10-11)||Goals||Shots Per Goal||Assists||Shots Created Per Game|
Chamakh wasn't just a one-dimensional poacher like Chicharito or Fletcher.
The Moroccan was involved in the buildup play and he had good rapport with Cesc Fàbregas.
Chamakh was also a big threat in the air.
He scored three of his seven goals from headers and was involved in 137 aerial contests—the second highest amount at Arsenal behind Laurent Koscielny's 152.
Point being, Chamakh was a decent player.
What Went Wrong for Marouane Chamakh?
Marouane Chamakh wasn't wired like David Fairclough, Ole Gunnar Solskjær or Roger Milla to be a spark off the bench.
Chamakh never embraced the role of being a backup because he had spent most of his career as a starting No. 9.
The best thing that happened to him at Arsenal was Robin van Persie breaking down.
The worst thing to happen to Chamakh at Arsenal was RVP coming back better than ever.
Chamakh was given several chances of which he didn't take advantage. He only averaged 0.7 shots per game in limited minutes during the 2011-12 Premier League season.
Against Stoke City last October, he was dominated by Ryan Shawcross for most of the game. Chamakh was replaced by Robin van Persie in the 66th minute with the game tied at 1-1.
The Dutchman scored a brace in nine minutes as the Gunners won 3-1.
Chamakh watched from the bench as Thierry Henry sneaked in behind the inexperienced Zac Thompson, immaculately controlled Alex Song's perfect through ball and tucked the ball past Andrew Lonergan.
The Moroccan probably thought, "Wow, that took Thierry 10 minutes to score. Why didn't that happen to me when I was on the field for 68 minutes?"
Three years, two months and 20 days ago, Chamakh said (via The Telegraph):
I am angry. I am even disgusted. I don’t understand why people are doing this [blocking a move to Arsenal].
To go to Arsenal, it’s my dream. I am a year from the end of my contract and the club [Bordeaux] wants to make it all about money. What the club is asking for isn’t fair.
That dream has turned into a nightmare.
The ultimate irony of Chamakh taking the moral high ground about money is clubs that are interested in signing him right now are put off by the £50,000 per-week salary he commands.
If you're an Arsenal supporter, comment below with how you'll remember Chamakh.