Et tu Alex? Goodbye to Alex SongBy: Felegy | August 23rd, 2012
Well, I picked a pretty interesting week to go out of town from an Arsenal perspective. When I left last week there was hope that RvP might be staying put, everyone was jazzed up about the new signings, and there was talk of more to come. I land in San Francisco on Wednesday last week, turn on my phone, and immediately receive 5-10 texts from both Arsenal and ManUre fans about the now confirmed transfer of one Robin Van Persie to Manchester. Shit. I told myself, you saw it coming so this is no big deal. Enjoy the time away from work in San Francisco seeing one of your favorite bands for three nights in a row. It’s all good, we don’t need RvP to win games. After all, we proved that the majority of the seasons he was here sitting on the sidelines nursing an injury and rubbing placenta on himself (or paying someone to rub said placenta on him).
I really didn’t have much computer access and didn’t really care now that RvP was gone. I put Arsenal out of my mind for a few days (yes, it’s possible) and prepared myself to get up at 6:30am on Saturday to take a bus across San Francisco to a pub that shows all of the Arsenal games. Despite a pretty “eventful” Friday night seeing a great band I managed to drag myself off my buddies couch (after maybe 3 hrs sleep), throw on my Alex Song Jersey, and head off across town to watch our Gunners kick off the season. As soon as I saw that Song was not in the starting lineup I felt sick, actually just more sick than I did already. I knew that he was off to Barcelona and was pissed. I’m not going to lie; it pretty much ruined the entire game for me. Perry did a great job recapping the game so I’m not even going to try and touch any kind of recap. I will agree that Cazorla looked like the real deal though. I’m going to instead focus on my utter confusion over the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona. WTF!!??
Just to be up front, I am a big Alex Song fan. I like the guy and I like the player that he has become over the last few years playing for us. I liked his toughness and grittiness out on the pitch. I enjoyed how he hounded players and relentlessly battled for the ball. I liked how he could be counted on for 35+ games a season in a starting role the majority of the time, often playing the entire 90 minutes. I didn’t like his rashness at times or his positioning at others, but those things can be taught and improved upon with maturity and experience. Something Barcelona is going to benefit from. You can’t teach toughness and Arsenal may find replacing his presence on the pitch more difficult than many imagine.
I have been shocked at how little outrage I see in articles and blogs about his sale to Barcelona. I’m just perplexed at how the same fan base can get so riled up about the sale of an aging Robin Van Persie (and punky Na$ri) and just kind of roll over at the sale of a relatively young and still improving midfielder! What’s the point of brining in these young raw players, suffering through their growing pains on the pitch, seeing them develop into good/great players only to be immediately sold!!?? We had Alex Song under contract through 2014 and we sold him off before his true potential and value was realized. Plus, the dude has great hair.
A lot of people didn’t understand his signing when it was made in 2006, after his loan in 2005 from Bastia, and he definitely did not make an immediate impact on the first team. After a loan out to Charlton he returned and started to mark his place in the first team. He truly started coming into his own in the 2008-09 season appearing in almost 50 games! Wenger seemed sold and extended his contract through 2014 in 2009. Every season since 2008 he was at 38+ appearances for us with minimal time missed due to injury. That says a lot considering the physical nature of his play, his position, and the fact that he plays for Arsenal. After 2008-09 Alex Song just got better with every new season adding different aspects to his game. He would end up making 204 appearances for Arsenal over his seven year career.
Sure, he wandered from time to time and was not always the ideal CDM but I can’t help but wonder if that was even his best position? His last National Team coach said he was often better offensively than defensively. Last season he showed the creativity that he possesses as well as some very nice footwork on the ball for a big guy. Would you rather he waste those talents and have just sat back and waited to tackle someone? Well, he impressed enough to get the attention of Barcelona and seemingly out of nowhere the likes of Iniesta were singing his praises in the Spanish press. At least Cesc had the decency to act like a professional and not put in his two cents when asked to comment on Alex Song. To me this seemed to have happened incredibly fast as well. It would be nice if we could sign players as fast as we can sell them! It seemed like only a matter of days from the rumors starting to his sale confirmation. Does anyone else feel like this happened really fast!?
Now, some papers are reporting that he was lazy and late at training and refusing coaching from the staff. Frankly, I don’t buy it for a second. I hate to say it, but I think it is a Business (Arsenal) trying to justify a bit of business that is going to add to their bank account at the expense of the team. They are putting spin on a situation trying to make it seem like they did not have a choice in selling him. I’m selling these rumors and not buying them. I guess that makes me a true Arsenal fan, a seller and not a buyer. Song’s camp is saying that he wanted to re-negotiate his contract prior to the start of the season but Arsenal dragged their feet saying they would sit down with him after September 1st. I wonder why Arsenal would choose that date? I can understand him wanting a pay raise after his vast improvement over the last two seasons. From what I have read, he’s not even making that much more at Barcelona than he was here.
This whole thing really irks me to say the least. Listen, I know that Alex Song is not Yaya Toure. Toure is almost 30 though; Song has plenty of time to get there. It’s just a shame it’s going to be in a Barcelona jersey instead of an Arsenal one. I wish him the best of luck in Spain and hope that his development continues at the rate it has the last few seasons at The Emirates. Oh yeah, did I mention the dude has great hair!?
See you Sunday fellow Gunners.