Arsenal FC: Gael Clichy Leaves for Manchester City, a Fitting Farewell

Robin SAnalyst IJuly 5, 2011

LONDON - JANUARY 31: Arsenal player Gael Clichy arrives for the Cystic Fibrosis 'Liv' charity dinner at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane on January 31, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

The last-remaining invincible of Arsenal, Gael Clichy, has left for Manchester City in a deal worth £7 million.

Immediately, I have to say it's a bargain buy for City considering the money previously wasted on left-backs Wayne Bridge and Aleksander Kolarov without the desired results.

Even an out-of-form Clichy is better than the aforementioned duo, and City got him for even less than half of what they paid Lazio for Kolarov.

While Clichy's departure won't cause much of an upheaval at Arsenal, it must be said that this is not the exact predicament Arsenal fans were hoping for, as there are no able replacements for Clichy from within the club.

It was common knowledge even before the season came to a conclusion that Clichy would leave Arsenal, after enduring a tough season coupled with the frustration of going trophy-less for six years.

His contract situation meant Arsenal had no choice but to sell him for a reasonable price rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.

As such, Arsenal received decent money for a player who just had a year left on his contract, but by shipping the player out, Arsenal have also managed to strengthen one of their rivals.

It's worth remembering that City finished above Arsenal in 2010-11, so it's Arsenal that need to play catch up and for doing that they need to bolster their squad.

Ironically, they've strengthened the already strong City unit, thereby weakening the Arsenal more when the focus should be on improving the squad. 

Some may disagree with me saying Clichy hasn't hit his peak for quite some time now and shouldn't be considered a danger for Arsenal next season or the season after.

While I agree that Clichy hasn't been at his best for a good part of two seasons, he's still one of the best left-backs in world football.

He does make occasional mistakes, but that shouldn't be allowed to mire his abilities.

Clichy is one of the fastest players around and his lung-busting runs forward after intercepting the balls has been on show at the Emirates for a long time enthralling the fans.

In simple terms, he intercepts the ball incredibly well and runs all day tirelessly, usually with no end product.

That's been the biggest criticism levelled at Clichy coupled with his defensive errors.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Gael Clichy stretches during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League game against Partizan Belgrade at the club's complex at London Colney on September 27, 2010 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Dean Mouhta
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Now that he's joined City, Clichy will certainly play better than he did at Arsenal, given the quality of City's defence compared to Arsenal's lacklustre back four.

Clichy's experience will also come in handy. Clichy has been at Arsenal for what seemed like eternity, so it's difficult to believe that he's only 25.

Clichy coped well with the pressure of playing for a club of the stature of Arsenal at an early age when Ashley Cole departed for Chelsea in 2006.

Back then, Arsenal fans expected him to serve the club for a very long, long time, and Clichy has always been a great servant to the club.

He went about his business without much fuss and has always been professional even during the hardest of times.

The Frenchman never complained, not even when Arsenal fans sceptically reviewed his performances.

Clichy silently acknowledged he was not playing well, and who knows, that may be one of the reasons that hastened his decision to leave.

He was stagnating at Arsenal and had to leave for the good of everyone concerned.

His most productive spell at the club was the 2007-09 period when he stepped up with glittering show on Arsenal's left side.

He was also named in the PFA team of the year once for his incredible 2007-08 season in the colours of Arsenal.

His form dwindled since then and stops short of a free fall, but he has gone backwards and now looks a shadow of the player he was back in 2008.

That doesn't mean he's poor now, in fact he's decent, but we know how good he can be when he's at his game.

That hasn't happened for quite some time and as the performances went downhill, the critics missed no opportunity to slag him off.

The sad reality is his Arsenal career was not as successful as it was expected to be when he replaced Cole as Arsenal's first-choice left-back.

LONDON COLNEY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15:  Samir Nasri (R), Gael Clichy (C) and Bacary Sagna during a France training session ahead of their international match against England on November 15, 2010, London Colney,  England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Image
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

That said, it was a career worthy of appreciation. I will miss him. I know he was not playing well, but he was Arsenal's longest-serving player and never whinged about anything.

He always gave his everything and even when his teammates dropped shoulders in games, he persistently played his heart out till the final whistle.

I will always remember his scintillating performance in the Champions League against AC Milan at the San Siro back in his halcyon days. That's the game with which I would like to remember Clichy forever.

Clichy deserved to win more trophies with Arsenal which never happened thanks to Wenger's stubbornness, lack of spending, players inability (including his own), lacklustre goalkeeping and defence, and relative inexperience.

Clichy won't be remembered as an Arsenal legend, but he has done enough to be remembered fondly.

I salute you Clichy for being part of Arsenal for eight years and wish you all the best. Hope you can do well for your new club, at the same time, I do hope your club doesn't do well.

For one last time, appreciate Clichy for the years he dedicated to Arsenal.


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