Arsenal

Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Adding Mathieu Flamini for Free Won't Inspire Gooners

PESCARA, ITALY - MAY 08:  Mathieu Flamini of AC Milan celebrates after scoring the third team's goal during the Serie A match between Pescara and AC Milan at Adriatico Stadium on May 8, 2013 in Pescara, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2013

It's gotten a bit easy to pile on Arsenal these days, so I'm going to try to avoid doing so here.

Sure, the rumour to follow will involve another free transfer. 

Yes, it will be for a player who is nearly 30 and already had a spell with the Gunners. Yes, it won't excite anyone. Yes, the move seems like the sort of reactionary, desperate signing that accompanies a poor approach to the transfer window in the first place. 

But no, I won't pile on, because the truth is this—right now, Arsenal could really use a player like Mathieu Flamini, at least until the team adds a top-notch holding midfielder or gets players like Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby healthy again. 

On Thursday, reports surfaced that Flamini would be returning to the Gunners.

From David Hytner of the Guardian:

Arsene Wenger is poised to bring back the former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini as a free agent and the player could come into contention for the Premier League fixture at Fulham on Saturday.

Arsenal are determined to make eye-catching signings before the close of the summer window on 2 September and they have made inquiries about the Real Madrid attacking players Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria, among others, while they have had a £10m offer for the Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye rejected.

But Wenger's next signing is set to be a familiar face as he calls upon an ex-player for the fourth time in five seasons. He has previously given short-term contracts to Sol Campbell, Jens Lehmann and Thierry Henry.

Hey, look at that—nestled in there is the truly juicy rumour that the team might pursue Karim Benzema or Angel Di Maria. We'll believe that when we actually see a signed contract.

Look, Arsenal needs Flamini at this point. Given that he can be brought on for the weekend, is a free addition, can play more than one position and will provide some much-needed cover in a thin, beat-up midfield, the move makes sense. 

Keep in mind he was hardly shabby for AC Milan last year, making 24 appearances for the club in all competitions. WhoScored.com gave him a 7.06 match rating in Serie A play, which is a pretty solid mark. 

However, it is the symbolism of the move that will leave Gooners a bit exasperated. Here is Arsene Wenger in recent days, talking about Arsenal hitting the market hard before the window closes, and then adding Flamini as a free agent. 

Here is the club making a truly laughable bid of £10 million for Cabaye that was rejected...then adding Flamini for nothing. 

It's as though Arsenal enjoy fueling the stereotypes about their cheap habits. 

I said I wouldn't pile on, though, so I'll finish with this—as a move to add reinforcements, and in the hope that Arsenal will add a big name or two before the window closes, the addition of Flamini is both logical and necessary. 

It may not be terribly exciting, but given the rash of injuries the club has suffered, we can forgive Wenger for some pragmatism. Some. 

Just not much more than this one, isolated move.

 

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