Yesterday we confirmed the signing of free agent Mathieu Flamini. He played for Arsenal between 2004 and 2008 before leaving, again on a free, to AC Milan.
Ever since our last trophy in 2005, our best every season was arguably the 2007-2008 campaign when we finished only 4 points off champions Manchester United. We finished 3rd that season but were top of the table for a lot of the season, until the infamous tackle from Martin Taylor who managed to smash Eduardo’s leg. After that, and the Gallas hissy fit, we lost our form and drew too many games in the title run in.
And that season we probably had the strongest midfield we’ve had in the “trophy less” seasons of late which consisted of Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini. They midfield was young, dynamic, strong and most importantly hungry. They were playing in the style of Arsene Wenger and teams found it seriously difficult to contain them. Flamini was the steel, Cesc the playmaker and Rosicky and Hleb had pace and an impressive range of passing. Adebayor scored 30 goals that season, with Eduardo and Fabregas chipping in with double figures.
People will remember how close Rosicky, Cesc, Flamini and Hleb were off the field, and that togetherness was displayed on the pitch.
After that impressive season however, Hleb moved to Barcelona for £12 million and Flamini moved to AC Milan on a free. This was one of the earlier examples of how Arsenal were incapable of securing players long term and he was allowed to let his contract expire. Would things have been different if Flamini stayed? It’s hard to say but keeping the midfield together would have been a good base going into the following campaign.
And onto today, and Mathieu Flamini is now 29 years old. He played 122 times for AC Milan and the Italian side chose not to renew his deal, and in his final season last year he was on a one year deal on significantly reduced wages. His career in Italy was blighted by injuries and he didn’t make as many appearances he would have liked.
So will Mathieu Flamini bring back the glory days? Probably not, but he will be a useful utility player if we suffer injuries to the team. He can cover in midfield but also full back if required.
Not the exciting signing we’re all after, but better than nothing.