In Defense Of Arsene: Why Mathieu Flamini Is To Blame

Tim YuSenior Analyst IMay 12, 2008

Arsene Wenger refers to this time of year as the "fishing season."

The English Premier League season has officially come to an end after another year of exciting football. Some teams are left to moan about their respective performances—whereas some are rejoicing in the fact that their club has exceeded expectations or have surprised them with several strong showings throughout the season.

And while these stages of thought and reflection occur amongst the clubs themselves, football agents roll up their sleeves and wind up their fishing rods to sling out their best bait into the pond—with hopes that they'll get the deal that they crave for the player that their representing.

And perhaps at times, agents are referred to as nothing more than pests.

They're often viewed as the ones poisoning our beloved football heroes with greed—asking for more money than what is really necessary, when most of the people in the general public, would gladly strap on their boots to play in the Premier League under a minimum wage.

They'll ask for the entire bank if they have to, and in the end, they've even proven to be too strong of a counter balance, and ultimately, a manager's worst enemy.

Managers pride themselves on emulating the Arsene Wenger way. Bringing in players at a relatively low cost, then selling them off at vastly inflated prices. It's a formula that has made some managers look like geniuses, while leaving the buying clubs seriously questioning their respective managers' transfer policy.

And when agents get in the way of the implemented system or wage salary cap, you can bet that managers are not the least bit pleased with their influence on the players within the game. 

Take, for instance, the situation surrounding Mathieu Flamini.

Flamini, 23, who was due to be a free agent at the end of the year, has recently bid farewell to Arsenal supporters after announcing that he would be signing a more lucrative deal with AC Milan (an estimated £70,000 per week)—in spite of the fact that Arsene Wenger had offered him a new contract to extend his stay at the Emirates, albeit for less than £70,000 per week.

And while many are quick to blame Arsene Wenger for the sudden loss of his world-class midfielder, few are quick to direct blame towards Mathieu Flamini and his representative for showing a lack of loyalty towards his club.

However, of course, Flamini insists that his decision to make the move to Milan had nothing to do with the money.

He claims that he was growing weary of the constant failures in the Premier League and Champions League in Arsenal colors. After three years without a domestic title, the Gunners fell out of contention in the later months of the season, possibly a side effect of the inexperience amongst the young players within the squad.

Whilst many can understand Flamini's frustrations, his actions indicate that his real concern had more to do with the money being offered on the table.

Despite his major concerns at Arsenal, Flamini left behind a club with momentum, and in doing so, moves to a club that appears to be going through one of their toughest transitions to date.

The Rossoneri are in the midst of what they would refer to as a "crisis," considering the fact that the Italian giants could very well be competing the UEFA Cup next season—if Fiorentina manages to hold onto the final Champions League birth through league play. 

Older players have been asked to leave following their abrupt Champions League exit—ironically, at the expense of Arsenal—and Flamini appears to be a part of a puzzle that will take some time to solve. Alexandre Pato leads the way as AC Milan's future stalwart, but outside of him, there aren't very many wunderkids donning the black and red.

Thus, one has to think that Flamini's true intentions are hidden behind the vast amount of money that he will be receiving per week—all thanks to an agent who stirred the bidding war for his client.

Arsenal had offered him a fair deal. He obviously had a role in Arsene Wenger's long-term plans, and would have been guaranteed of a key role in what looks to be an exciting future for the London football club—had he stayed on.

But Wenger wanted to stay within the realms of his salary cap, and when Flamini turned away from his offer, he turned his back on his team mates and Arsenal—showing a lack of loyalty. 

In a world that is still suffering the ill effects of recession, one has to wonder how much longer deals such as the Flamini contract can last in a footballing business that seems to be undergoing an excessive amount of inflation.

One has to wonder when athletes will begin to twist their minds back to reality, and realize that £60,000 per week is still plenty of money to survive on.

And if Mathieu Flamini was really concerned about the overall success of his team, he'll have a tough time finding trophies with a club that might not even qualify for the Champions League next season.

But then again, he'll still have his £70,000 per week to count on if all else fails.


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