A familiar face from Arsenal’s past can currently be seen at the club’s London Colney training ground, and his name is Robert Pires. The French winger is a free agent after being released by Spanish outfit Villarreal in the summer, and Pires has been training at the club in order to keep up his fitness. It is a remarkably similar situation to one that occurred last season, when Sol Campbell trained with the club and was then given a contract by Arsene Wenger after he impressed the Arsenal boss. So will the same thing happen with Pires? And would it be a good move for the Gunners?
Many fans would be delighted to see a firm favourite in the form of Pires return to the club and pull on the red shirt of Arsenal once more. In a six year career in North London Pires delighted the Gunners faithful with some sensational performances on the wing, he had trickery, technique, was strong on the ball and also scored a good number of goals. During his time at Arsenal Pires won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and won the FWA’s Footballer of the Year award in the 2001-02 season, and in 2008 he was voted as the club’s sixth greatest player of all time in an online poll on the official Arsenal website. Safe to say then that Robert Pires is something of an Arsenal legend.
Many fans believed that Pires was let go by Arsene Wenger too early in his career, he was 32 when he left England for Spain and joined Villarreal. Pires had a good spell at Villarreal as the club confirmed themselves as one of the best teams in La Liga. Pires provided great experience and was a mainstay before being released by the club this summer, and Wenger was more than happy to allow him to train at Arsenal to keep his fitness up.
“He is sparkling. He’s happy on the ball and physically he is fine. He can be of service in Ligue 1.”
Wenger obviously believes that Pires has still got it then, but whilst he believes Pires can still do it in the French Ligue One, he doesn’t actually state that he could definitely still perform in the Premiership, which as we know is a much more competitive league. But Wenger did not exactly rule it out, and he was speaking to a French audience when he made his statement. It could be imagined then, that there is an outside chance of Wenger signing up Pires on a short term contract.
One thing Robert Pires would certainly add in abundance is experience, and this could be very useful for a squad that is still young. I obviously haven’t seen Pires in action in London Colney, but you imagine he could still do a job for Arsenal, and he would not be having to play week in week out which would be questionable. Pires best work might in fact come on the training field though, imagine what players like Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere and a host of others could learn from him, it would only improve them as players.
Arsene Wenger showed last season that he is not averse to signing up veterans who have played under him in the past, and Sol Campbell was on the whole a success. If Wenger sees enough in Pires I am sure he will have no hesitation in giving him another opportunity to play for Arsenal, and it would certainly be an exciting prospect to see him walk out of the tunnel as a Gunner once more.