Whatever happened to Pascal Cygan?

An astute buyer in the transfer market, Arsene Wenger knows how to build a team. The Frenchman also knows how to spot a bargain, particularly with French players, bringing the likes of Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, Abou Diaby and Robert Pires on the cheap. But Wenger has bought in some howlers in his time from Ligue 1: Kaba Diawara is a player that springs to mind. One player who falls into the latter category is Pascal Cygan, a member of the “Invicibles” (albeit not a key one), who is now playing in the Spanish second division after leaving Villarreal last summer.

After a successful spell as captain of French side Lille, Wenger brought Cygan to Highbury for £2 million in 2002. The 6 ft 4’ central defender, who can also play at left back, was regarded as a flop at Arsenal due to a number of lacklustre performances and high-profile mistakes. The Frenchman was mainly used as a fringe player at Arsenal, due to intense competition for places with Sol Campbell, Philippe Senderos and Kolo Toure in his spell at the club. In total, Cygan made 98 appearances for Arsenal in four seasons with the club.

Cygan joined Spanish side Villarreal in 2006 for £2 million, joining former Arsenal team-mate Robert Pires at the club, at a time when Villarreal were shining in the Champions League, due to the exploits of talismanic playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme and the goalscoring heroics of Diego Forlan.

After playing regularly in his first two years in Spain (making 20 appearances in 2006/07 and 22 in 2007/08), Cygan barely featured for Villarreal last season, only making 4 appearances in La Liga. As a result Villarreal refused to renew the defender’s contract and Cygan joined Spanish second division side FC Cartagena last summer.

Cygan has featured heavily for Cartagena this season, making 19 appearances for the club so far this season and helping the club to third place in the Spanish Segunda Division this year. At 35, Cygan is at the twilight of his career and it is unlikely he will be playing at the top level again.

Considered a flop at Arsenal, many people believe that Cygan was never cut out to play football at the very top level. At least the Gunners didn’t make a massive loss of the Frenchman though, selling him at the same price they bought him for, but Pascal Cygan will still go down as one of Wenger’s worst buys in his reign as Arsenal manager.

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