At this end of this season, it seems like Arsenal will continue what they started last summer. Culling the ‘dead wood’ – although I hate this term.
Last year saw Abou Diaby, Ryo Miachi & Lukasz Podolski leave the club. According to the Evening Standard, Arsenal are unlikely to renew the contracts of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. All of whom’s current deal’s run out at the end of the season. This will free up nearly £12 million from our yearly wage bill.
Whilst many will say they should have gone a long time ago, all 3 will leave with their heads held high knowing that they helped Arsenal through a tough time in the clubs history.
Some will claim Mikel Arteta was one of Arsene Wenger’s most important signings. Whilst this is a tad of an exaggeration, he joined the club during our darkest hours.
Clichy, Fabregas, Eboue & Nasri had just left. Arsenal had only signed two first team players – Gervinho & a young Oxlade-Chamberlain. We had just lost 8-2 to Manchester United. The club was in crisis.
On transfer deadline day, Arsenal spent nearly £30 million bringing in 5 players.
We needed calm, experienced heads. And in Mikel Arteta – and Per Meresacker – that is exactly what we got.
His influence on the club, both on and off the pitch, was there for everyone to see.
On the pitch, he was like a metronome. His ball retention ability was 2nd to none in the league. Whilst he did not have the flair of Nasri, or the creativity of Cesc, he was able to influence the team from deeper, leading many to say it is a pity we did not sign him sooner.
Sacrificing his own attacking instincts, he went back to the defensive role which he played earlier in his career, and he was excellent, if not always ideal.
As captains continued to leave around him, Robin van Persie & Thomas Vermaelen, Arteta became more important off the pitch. He grew into his current role of club captain.
He might not have been a first choice for 18 months now, but a captains job is not just for the 90 minutes on the pitch. Many players have often spoken about Arteta’s role in the dressing room.
Santi Cazorla said “He is always up for whatever the guys need. And that is what a captain has to do: transmitting conviction in order to keep the team together…. Whenever there is a problem he is the one that goes and talks to the manager. He leads this group, so this captaincy is well deserved after his hard work here at Arsenal.”
He is also often found at Hale End with the Arsenal academy taking training sessions, and is the man who makes youngsters welcome when they are invited to train with the first team.
Arteta is a true captain. After the ego captains of Henry, Gallas, Cesc, van Persie & Vermaelen, he was the right choice to get the arm band 18 months ago.
It is just a pity he is not a few years younger, as he would still have an important role to play within the club.
Personally, I would not mind seeing him getting a contract extension. He is clearly influential off the pitch, and he could fill a role that the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes did at Manchester United. Guiding other players through the early stages of their career and ensuring squad unity.
I would not be surprised to see Mikel Arteta become a very successful manager in the future.
Tomas Rosicky joined Arsenal in 2006. After a brilliant World Cup, where in my opinion he was the 2nd best player on show after Kaka, he had just been made captain of the Czech Republic. I was excited about his signing after having first seen him at Dortmund.
This was a player who had the talent to fill Robert Pires’ boots. To become a World Class player.
Sadly, injuries damaged his career.
A mysterious injury in 2008 saw him make no appearances for the club in 2008/09. However, his contribution to the club is certainly not to be sniffed at.
Memorable goals against Spurs showed his talent. He was just unable to put together a run of games.
I was very surprised (as was he) when Arsenal decided to take up the option of renewing his contract for a further year this summer. It was clear he was surplus to requirements, and wanted out to seek regular football elsewhere in the twilight of his career.
Was his contract only extended to ensure there was a friendly face at the club in our pursuit for Cech? If so, it is a years salary well spent.
He Resigned for 12 months, and has since been injured. It is the tale of his Arsenal career.
Like Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini nearly left in the summer.
Moves to turkey were mooted, and then turned down. Whether this was Flamini wanting to stay and fight for his place in the team, or the club realising that he made Mesut Ozil happy, and Mesut Ozil’s happiness was more important than saving a few million, only the club know.
What is for certain is the two goals he scored against Spurs will write him into Arsenal folk lore.
It is amazing to think that if Flamini does move on this summer, he would have been transferred 4 times during his career. All on a free transfer.
On his return to the club, he was good for the first season. Providing the legs and energy that Arteta was perhaps unable to.
Imagine a Flamini / Arteta hybrid, 10 years younger. It would be the perfect defensive midfielder.
After his first year, it was clear Flamini was no longer good enough. Arsenal needed more than someone who could just ‘run around a little bit’. The defensive midfielder saw the ball more than any other player in a red and white shirt. They needed to be able to pass. And that was Flamini’s weakness. He was not a very good technical footballer.
His demise is mirrored by Francis Coquelin’s rise. Coquelin was as close to a hybrid as we could get. He has the legs and energy of Flamini, but can also play. He showed in a few games around 12 months ago everything Arsenal was missing. Everything that both Flamini and Arteta could not do.
Flamini did a job for 12 months, and then picked up a wage for 24 months. He clearly still has the passion to play, and could still perform at a mid table side in England or France. Arsenal should thank him for his contribution and let him depart.
The money that letting these 3 leavIng free’s up essentially means that Arsenal could go out and add a World Class talent to the squad, an Ozil or Sanchez, without the wage bill increasing. Of course, this relies on us spending, but that’s another blog.
All 3 have played a key part in Arsenal’s history. Whether it is a single game or a season. We should all wish them well.