Another player to leave Arsenal with nothing at the end of the tunnel

Barcelona midfielder Alex Song

It was one of the more unusual images created this season: Barcelona celebrating wildly in the corner of the pitch at the Camp Nou following Jordi Alba’s goal in the 4-0 thumping of AC Milan, only for Alex Song to emerge from the sea of players and coaches.

Song has felt the sting of reality at Barcelona since arriving last summer. It’s been the knockback he’s needed in his football career, with the arrogance and cavalier approach at Arsenal proving to be completely unwarranted. The word has been that the player is unhappy with life on the substitute’s bench, while there have even been subtle hints of a return to Arsenal. For now, chalk this one up as another player who left Arsenal in hope of a better life, only to be left with little to nothing at the end of the tunnel.

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And you can’t say it’s not deserved. Song grew into a player at Arsenal who believed he was better than he was. He was filled with a sense of overwhelming importance, as if the team would crumble without his presence and lofted through balls to Robin van Persie. Unlike his breakout and best Premier League season in 2008-09, Song’s last campaign with Arsenal confirmed him to be something of a one-trick pony; certainly not through lack of ability, but absolutely through lack of desire.

Barcelona’s approach and eventual signing of the player was far more about the financial issues at the club than their unwavering wish to add Song to their squad. And in many ways, we’re seeing the product of that now. Javi Martinez could have been lining up for Barcelona against Bayern Munich, perhaps even alongside Pique in defence instead of the hugely inexperienced Marc Bartra. It’s what they needed, a player who could take up a role in defence or use his muscle as a protective barrier in midfield. Instead of shelling out on Martinez’s €40million release clause, they, ironically, went down the Arsenal route and saw a cheaper alternative at the Emirates. It fed into Song’s already inflated ego, and you really were keen to see the outcome of his attitude mixed with the strict and disciplined approach at the Barcelona training ground.

It’s for this reason that Arsene Wenger is so reluctant to sign former players. While it has been encouraged in the past with one or two names, on the whole the manager has got it right in not allowing players such as Alex Hleb an opportunity to really get their career back on track. It’s a simple matter of the players abandoning Arsenal after years or education, only to discover their complete misjudgement of both the situation and themselves.

You can’t really make a strong claim that Song has a future in the Premier League after this season. He hasn’t been at his very best for a few years, and what exactly could he provide to clubs in England? The links to Tottenham were a little strange, not just because of the rivalry. Where does Song act as improvement over what they have, other than just providing depth?

The player has seemingly gone full circle, yet for slightly different reasons. Song was quickly labelled as a failed project well before the educating really began at Arsenal. He looked nothing of a player good enough for a top Premier League side, and now, while clearly having improved, is no closer to earning a place back among England’s elite.

A move to France may be on the cards for the player, and you couldn’t totally dismiss the idea of Song being sold to PSG this summer. He’s provided extremely little for what Barcelona needed of him this season, and his actions and behaviour have burnt the bridges of a potential move back to Arsenal.

Amusing that Wenger suggested the player try another season with Barcelona after his disappointing first year. More than anything, it looked like a subtle hint that the door is firmly closed for a way back to the Emirates.

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