New Barcelona midfielder Alex Song has expressed his gratitude towards father figure and former manager Arsene Wenger, who helped the midfielder settle when he arrived as a 17-year-old, eight years ago.
The Cameroon international left North London in the summer transfer window and has praised his former mentor for helping to adjust to England life after leaving his family in France. The Frenchman developed the youngster into one of the most lethal midfielders in the Premier League which led to Barca’s interest over the summer.
The now-25-year-old praised his former boss for helping with his transition, and has labelled him as ‘like a father':
When I came to England, he was a big help to me. I was very young, just 17, not 25 like I am now. Wenger was like a father to me.
It was very hard for me at first because I had left my family behind in France, and so he treated me like a son.
I have a great relationship with Wenger. I want to thank him for believing in me. I want to give him back everything he gave me I’m sure he’s happy to see where I am now and the kind of player I have become.
He always said ‘do you remember your first touches of the ball when you came to Arsenal? They’re not the same as they are now’. And I’d answer: ‘you’re right. They’re certainly not the same as they are now’.
Wenger’s knack of spotting and nurturing young talent has worked time and time again, but the worrying trend is these types of players are sold in their prime. Although the Gunners have coped without Song this season, we would have been stronger with him.
It was another gamble by the Frenchman to place his faith in Diaby and Wilshere to take over the reigns of the box-to-box role that Arteta played so well last season, but I feel that if Song stayed he would add real steel to the midfield and his athleticism is only bettered by the Ivorian with the receding hairline.
Song rarely suffered injuries and could play 90 minutes 3 times in a week no sweat, and with his attacking prowess that developed last season would have helped the midfield to flourish even more. But what is done is done, and we just have to hope that Wilshere and Diaby will be able to keep fit this season.
The Cameroonian had earlier stated he was ready to commit his future to the North London club, but when Barca came in it seemed the Gunners were enfactuated by the cash-monies on offer..That is the bottom line why Song left his Arsenal family.
So should we still look to replace him this January or next summer? With Coquelin looking decent, and Frimpong close to a full first team return, Wenger will almost definitely not look to reinforce the defensive midfield position. Arteta has filled Songs defensive void well, so as long as the Spaniard remains fit for the season and is able to be rotated with the younger duo for non-league matches then Wenger’s gamble will pay off.
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