Why Song and Arsenal are big losers in Barcelona transfer
"I was ready to commit my future to the club. All I wanted were talks about a new contract but each time we were due to sit down, the club postponed it. I was fobbed off." - Alex Song
Alex Song laid it bare.
No matter how they slice it, the Arsenal board have again been caught out by their own policy regarding new contracts.
Just as the Robin van Persie saga was allowed to develop last season and as they're confronted by Theo Walcott's situation now, blame for Song's move to Barcelona lays at the feet of the Gunners board.
Arsene Wenger made the claim last week that he could afford to lose Song because of the depth of his midfield. So why, barely days later, did we have Rennes GM Pierre Dreossi talking up Arsenal's interest in Yann M'Vila? Or today's coverage of Wenger's interest in Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye?
Song was developing as the complete midfield player at Arsenal. Players of his type: energetic, creative and capable of winning 40:60 tackles, are rare on the ground these days. Wenger and Arsenal had one - and he wanted to stay. But as Song says, talks over a new contract never even reached the point of discussing terms. He didn't price himself out of staying - he never had the chance to!
Instead, he's now at Barcelona. Not bad for a player so dispensable, as Wenger argued last week.
The only winner out of this is Barca. Not Song, who will now be rendered into a support role at the Blaugrana.
He should have heeded the words of Yaya Toure, the Manchester City midfielder, when discussing his time at Barca. Frustrated with his defensive role in Spain, Toure has since flourished at City, where his attacking abilities are appreciated. Song will have to curb those same instincts if he's to fit into the Barca system.
Toure's profile wouldn't be half what it is now if he'd stayed at the Nou Camp. At Arsenal, Song would've the main man in midfield, exploiting his strengths at both ends of the pitch. But now he'll have to take a backseat to the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. He'll become little more than water carrier for Barca's stars and that's a shame as his form last season suggested we were seeing the best all-round African midfielder since Chelsea's Michael Essien.
That form deserved to be recognised by Arsenal's moneymen. Song left the club earning £55,000-a-week. If the board genuinely believes, in today's market, and for all his influence in dragging the club to top three finish last season, that was what Song deserved then recent history is bound to be repeated.
And it won't matter, as Wenger claims, what passport the players hold.
Song showed loyalty. He waited over eight months for Arsenal to come good on an improved deal. It was the club which forced his hand and he deserved better than the smear campaign that greeted his departure.