Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Monday May 5 2008
As my esteemed editor confirmed earlier this evening, Mathieu Flamini has completed his switch from Arsenal to AC Milan after months of speculation.
The French international made his name at Arsenal after a switch from Marseille in 2004 has enjoyed a fantastic season with The Gunners. His industrious, never say die attitude have offered a fantastic base for Fabregas to tear teams apart.
It's a pitty he chose to chase money rather than football, but that's modern football for you. The fact that he has chosen money is why I say 'Fu*k you' to the Frenchman. That's not to say that I'm not grateful to him. He gave 100% for every second he was in an Arsenal shirt. I wish him all the best.
Now, the business of who will replace him? The first place to look is in our current squad.
The Brazilian is a World Cup winner. That alone does not make him the right man, but he's been there and done it. He has been professional this season, not mouthing off in the press every time he was left out of the team. He has showed us that he can do it, and last season he made a fantastic stand-in captain for Henry. But he is no sprig chicken and looks off the pace this season. I don't think Wenger will go back to 'The Invisible Wall.'
A powerful Frenchman, capable of bulldozing through teams. I'm not talking about Vieira, but Diaby. There has been many comparisons made between the two Frenchmen, mainly due to their similar physical stature rather than their style of play. He's been deployed on the wing this season rather than in the middle, but I think he has what it takes to play in the middle. There is one problem though, he doesn't seem to be able to play with Fabregas. The two of them like to get forward, meaning the back four would often be left exposed. Unless Wenger can change his style of play, he wont be the man to replace Flamini in the middle.
The Cameroon international has been played as a centre back for Arsenal this season, and he has excelled. He had a good African Cup of Nations playing in midfield, but he doesn't seem to do it there for Arsenal. His future is as a defender. He wont replace Flamini.
The Swiss international was a midfielder when Arsenal signed him, and one of the best in his age group at that. Wenger thought he would be better off at the back, and duely converted him. He's big, powerful and composed. I'm not sure he'd relish being switched back to his original position, but with Song switching to centre back, he may not have a future as a defender. An unlikely choice, but one to consider.
The young Brazilian is resilliant and industious. Not to the extremes of Flamini, but industrious none the less. When Arsenal signed him Wenger described him as '50% Gilberto, 50% Rosicky.' That sounds like a dream midfielder to me. But he's struggled to get first team action this season, despite a string of fantastic performances in the Carling Cup last season. Wenger will definantly give him some thought, but I think that he's too similar to Fabregas for the two of them to be played together. But then everyone said that about Rooney and Tevez.
Both fantastic players, but both too attacking to be played with Fabregas week-in, week-out.
I'm sure there's a little Frenchman living on the south coast that is kicking himself right about now. Diarra didn't get much football in his short Arsenal career, but I for one would be giving him my backing to step up to the mark for next season. Shame he left.
So it looks like Arsenal will bring someone in for next season. Who? I'll let the creative minds of the tabloids bore you with that.
Date:Monday May 5 2008
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