At the age of 30, he is regarded as one of the senior players in the squad and has been through a lot in his six-year stint with the club. Arriving in the Premier League with a relatively unknown status, the Frenchman worked his way up the food chain in his debut campaign in England, endearing himself to Arsenal fans and winning a place in the 2008 PFA Team of the Year.
From that moment, he set the tone for what has been one hell of a career in North London.
Despite making up a lot of distance further up the pitch to support his attacking winger on a consistent basis whilst performing his defensive duties admirably, Sagna continued to maintain amazing fitness levels. The number of appearances he made in his first four seasons was staggering, in contrast to his injury-plagued campaign last season.
His moment of glory came with a price, as he injured himself after scoring his first-ever goal for the club in that Didier Drogba-inspired 2-1 loss to Chelsea in Stamford Bridge. In the 2010/11 campaign, he managed to score two well-taken goals against Everton in Goodison Park and Leeds United in Elland Road.
His last goal for the club would be his most important goal. It sparked a revival in one of the most enthralling games I’ve witnessed as an Arsenal fan.
In his time at Arsenal, the fans have become accustomed to his eccentric hairstyle, his beautiful Ludivine, his optimal fitness levels, amazing work rate, his influence on Carl Jenkinson and most importantly, his unrivaled consistency—which has been put in question this season.
Suffering two broken legs definitely took a toll on Sagna’s fitness and form, but he should be lauded for trying to come back stronger.
This season, Sagna has been a shadow of the player I once heralded as the S.I. Unit for consistency. His leg injury forced him to stay at home last summer while Laurent Blanc and his Les Bleus traveled to Ukraine and Poland for the European Championships. To be fair, his replacement, Matt Debuchy, didn’t put a wrong foot throughout the tournament till their quarterfinal exit at the hands of Spain.
While Debuchy continued to deputize for his compatriot in the national side, Carl Jenkinson manned the right back position in the start of this season, acclimatizing himself into the role as well as putting up stellar performances in Sagna’s stead.
The Bac Man made his long-awaited return in autumn. He showed his class in some games, while he was an aberration in others.
No thoroughbred Arsenal fan will ever forget his five-star performance against Sunderland this season.
He was drafted into an unfamiliar center back role after Laurent Koscielny picked up a knock in the warm-up, but Sagna’s performance against Sunderland would go down as one of his best in Arsenal colors. Sagna marshaled a defense that held the fort from start to finish. He made a lot of vital interceptions, clearances and headers. He was awesome in every sense of the word.
On the other hand, Sagna has had his fair share of stinkers. One need look no further than the games against Southampton (away), Newcastle (home), Chelsea (away) and most recently, the crunch encounter between Arsenal and Manchester United.
Sagna was culpable for the goals conceded courtesy of some sloppy passes that were intercepted by the opposition. Sagna’s positioning has been downright appalling in some games, with memories of Juan Mata’s early goal in Stamford Bridge ringing bells in my head. When Newcastle visited the Emirates, Sagna made Gabby Obertan look like Ronaldinho.
Against Manchester United, Sagna inexplicably chose to send a sloppy pass that was gracefully received by van Persie. In his attempt to seek redemption, a rush of blood to his head saw the Frenchman scythe RVP inside the box, giving the ref no choice but to point to the spot.
When everybody thought that Sagna was going to be axed like Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen after such an appalling performance, Sagna took to the pitch against Queens Park Rangers in Loftus Road and didn’t do half badly. The fullback also played in the recent mauling of Wigan, and he’ll be odds on to play what might seem like his final Arsenal game in St. James’ Park on Sunday.
In recent times, a mass exodus of Arsenal players have left for greener pastures. When it seemed as if Theo Walcott was going to join the trend, he made a U-turn and signed a long-term deal that would keep him in the club for years to come.
With Walcott’s future sorted out, all eyes were firmly fixed on Bacary Sagna. He was tipped to make a move to the free-spending Paris St. Germain, but the Frenchman pledged his allegiance to Arsenal, according to Sky Sports:
The transfer rumours regarding PSG? I am 100 per cent devoted to my club, I am only thinking about defending the colours of Arsenal until the end of my contract.
The fans are angry with me because they heard about PSG’s interest, but I am not responsible for that. I have never had any contact.
These quotes were said in February. In a strange twist of fate, Sagna has turned things around and has decided to keep his options open (via ESPN):
I could very well extend my contract here in London but equally I could leave at the end of the season. I only have one year left on my contract. We will see.
At the moment I am fully focused on Arsenal. I don’t know what will happen this summer. I have to see the directors again regarding an extension to my contract. Monaco would be a new challenge. I don’t close any door to PSG, Monaco or Arsenal.
With Sagna approaching the same scenario Arsenal faced with Gael Clichy, $amir Na$ri and Robin van P€r$i£, the Gunners hierarchy will be forced to make a decision about his future.
There are only two ways to deal with this scenario.
There is the profitable way, in which the Arsenal decision-makers would look at the prospects of selling a 30-year-old defender to the likes of Paris St. Germain or Monaco, bearing in mind that he has indirectly declared his interest in returning back home to earn some big greens.
With this in mind, Arsenal will reveal their asking price, and if it’s matched by the moneybags of France, Sagna will be theirs for the taking. Like Alex Song’s unexpected sale to Barcelona, the sale of Sagna would bring a plethora of divided opinions among fans, pundits, journalists and the whole nine yards.
The million dollar question will be: Will Arsenal replace Sagna if he’s sold, or will it be time for the Jenkinson dynasty to rise?
There’s also the conservative way, in which Arsenal’s decision-makers will follow the route used in tying Theo Walcott to a long-term contract.
The club would consider the fact that on his day, Sagna is a force to be reckoned with. His past exploits have shown that he’s a dependable player. The club also tied Carl Jenkinson to a long-term deal and would want players like Sagna to be around to nurture the young lad as he continues his meteoric rise in North London.
The club would bear in mind that he has attracted interest from other richer clubs, so they would hand him a new contract extension with a substantial wage rise, tying down Sagna for years to come.
Irrespective of the path Sagna takes this summer, I’ll always have fond memories of the Bac Man that marauded Arsenal’s right flank balancing his defensive and attacking play superbly.
Since the days of Lee Dixon and Lauren Etame-Meyer, Sagna’s performances on the right rank him with the very best in the beautiful game. Arsenal fans are honored to have such an amazing player in every sense of the word.
Sagna has amassed 235 appearances for the club. I can only hope that he would be able to add to this tally next season, but should he decide to seek greener pastures elsewhere, I won’t shed a tear. Arsenal is like the Greek mythical creature, Hydra.
If you take one head out, another pops up.