Flamini’s Milan move leaves Wenger with a real challenge to replace him

Flamini’s Milan move leaves Wenger with a real challenge to replace him

Mathieu Flamini has left Arsenal for MilanIt’s official: Mathieu Flamini is an Arsenal player no more.

It was revealed earlier today that the Frenchman has passed his medical and signed a four-year deal with AC Milan worth around €5.6million per year. The Italians are of course able to pay Flamini such an extensive amount due to the fact that the Frenchman’s contract with Arsenal is up and he was able to make the move without incurring any sort of transfer fee under the Bosman rule.

AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti had this to say about the signing of Flamini:

“Flamini is a very good player – we saw this when he played against us in the UEFA Champions League. This is an excellent signing.”

He’s certainly not wrong there and I have to say that I feel very disappointed about Flamini leaving. He has always been a firm favourite of mine at the club – even during the time when he was nothing more than a bit-part player – and I feel he will be missed by Arsenal next season.

There will be many people who label Flamini a disloyal money-grabber (Fla-money?) for doing what he has done but at the end of the day Arsene Wenger took a risk in keeping him at the club without extending his contract and the Frenchman cannot really be blamed for taking this opportunity. Not only will he earn an exorbanent amount of money but he also gets to join one of the world’s most respectable football clubs and at the end of the day that’s quite a difficult proposition to turn down.

The thing that worries most about Flamini’s exit is that, unlike a lot of people, I see him as a player who has both the ability and desire to become the best in the world in his position. Many Arsenal supporters see him as nothing more than a hard-working grafter but in my opinion this season has seen him become far more competent on the ball as well excellent passer to boot. Add to that the fact that he is the first Arsenal player to really click with Cesc Fabregas and you have a man who will be more difficult to replace at the club than many people suspect.

Flamini has the potential to become the world’s premier defensive midfielderGiven the previous departure of Lassana Diarra and the fall from grace of Gilberto Silva, Arsene Wenger now faces quite a challenge to find an adequate substitute for Flamini. I should say that although I think Flamini will be incredibly difficult to replace I am not worried about Wenger’s ability to bring in someone worthy of doing just that. As I said in yesterday’s post there has been rumours about the manager’s interest Lille’s Jean Il Makoun while Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry will surely also be a target.

There’s really not too much point in speculating because the manager will probably do his usual thing and surprise the supporters with someone completely random stage. And before people start getting into a spin about making a huge signing can I just remind you that Bacary Sagna was a virtual unknown outside of France before the start of this season, while Abou Diaby and Alex Song are more than capable of doing the defensive job alongside Fabregas if required.

Regardless, I wish Flamini all the best in his time in Italy. He has always given 100% in his time at Arsenal and at the end of the day as a supporter that is all you can really ask for.

What do you think?

Have your say on Mathieu Flamini’s exit by leaving a comment.

21 Responses to “Flamini’s Milan move leaves Wenger with a real challenge to replace him”

  1. Singapore Gooner
    May 6, 2008 at 5:58 pm #

    Fair comments. It’s difficult to turn down an offer which doubles your pay. if it happens to any of us, we might do make the same move, let alone AC is such a massive club

  2. Spanish Fry
    May 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    Yes. Totally agree.

  3. Tony
    May 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm #

    Best of luck to him because he will need it. Arsenal players that leave the club NEVER go on to better things. He might be a lot richer but he will also realise that his fantastic final season was down to Arsene Wenger’s style of play and the other 10 players he played with.

    I give him 2 seasons at most before he leaves Milan to pursue first team football.

  4. C-Bass
    May 6, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    It’s a shame. I remember earlier in the season telling my mates that if he stays he’s the next Arsenal shirt I buy. At the end of the day though you can’t turn down more money at a class organization like AC Milan. I’ll keep one eye on Milan next season and wish him the best.

    I am glad you brought up Sagna. Hopefully Wenger can bag another gem. This time in the midfield.

  5. Spanish Fry
    May 6, 2008 at 9:00 pm #

    I have to disagree with you Tony. I think he will be a success. Milan will work him into a first team position and continuously rotate him with the likes of Gattuso and Ambrosini to keep them all fresh. I think he will be a big hit in Italy because his energy is something that very few players have.

  6. FunGunner
    May 6, 2008 at 9:40 pm #

    Hiya, Spanish

    Nice blog again, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you to some extent.

    You can’t force a player to sign a contract. Mathieu Flamini was offered an extension last summer and refused it because he was thinking of leaving. (Only Birmingham FC were interested, please note.) He then decided to stay and fight for a starting place. I would imagine that it didn’t seem a high priority to tie him down then, and Wenger might also have been trying to make MF’s life easier by enabling him to leave on a free if he made a good fist of the chance he was offered in midfield. Let’s not forget that up to this season, he hadn’t excelled as a CDM. His best showings had been as a stand-in for our injured full-backs. We fans thought of him as versatile, a fighter, always 100% committed – but the best utility player around, not the best CDM. He then performed far better than expected. When he had been consistently excellent for a period of time, the club offered him a new, substantially improved contract, which he has turned down. I don’t think that’s bad management. In the final analysis, the guy wanted to leave.

    Arsenal have to respect the pay structure or the club will go bust – Arsene’s words, not mine. You make your best offer and if it’s not good enough for the player, then so be it. It’s one thing to break the structure for TH14, quite another to break it for MF. If they had, half a dozen of the other players would have demanded matching increases. If spending goes out of control, the club starts on the slippery slope to insolvency.

    Flamini has been fantastic this year, and did a sterling job during the Champions’ League run two seasons ago, but his departure is not a disaster for the very reason that you state; Wenger always has someone else crouching inside his Magic Hat, ready to spring out and shout “Surprise!”. Or Arsene could promote from the ranks – like he did with Flamini.

    Players leave on frees – it happens. He came to us on a free. Maybe Flamini has always dreamed of playing in Italy – fair enough. I’m not upset with him for going, just for messing Arsene around and watching World Cup Winner, Brazil captain and all-round nice guy Gilberto suffer because he has lost his place, when he knew he was going to leave anyway. Saying “he knew he was going to leave” may be harsh, but I can’t believe MF genuinely believed he would get the £100,000-plus figure which is being quoted, so in practice, he knew he was going to leave. He could at least have come clean in January – he had done more than enough to enhance his reputation by then.
    (I know you can’t rely on press reports about the amount he is demanding, and if the figure is wrong, then I apologise, Flamini, if you’re listening!)

    Regarding ins and outs: I’m going to indulge in some wild speculation…because it’s fun. Trying to think like Arsene, I will guess that we are going to get a Vidic-type CB; a right-sided attacking midfielder/second striker of the Ljungberg or the Rosicky ilk (but who can stay fit!), a DM who can cover the fullback positions as well mainly LB, and an experienced GK, also as cover. The reason I say the new DM/FB would be cover, rather than a direct replacement for the Flamster, is that I’m also hoping that Song will be put into the Flamini role. I think he offers even more options than Flamini did – better heading and more ambitious passing, for example. He’s doing well at CB but I think we need him in midfield.
    As to players leaving, I’m guessing Gilberto will only go if Arsene can’t persuade him to stay as cover for DM and CB. Justin Hoyte should be sold for his own sake. He’s a good defender, but our style of play doesn’t have much use for his type of RB, so he should go to a club where he will be at least challenging for first choice. That will boost his confidence and make him an even better player. We’ve got lots of cover at RB anyway. Other than those, I’m guessing no changes, so if I’m right, that’s a net addition of only one player to the first team squad, but it would be more balanced.

  7. Spanish Fry
    May 6, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    Great comment FunGunner. I don’t actually think you’re disagreeing with me because I’m not blaming Wenger or the club or even Flamini in any way for the transfer. I’m just a little worried because I believe he’s top quality and we’re losing arguably the outstanding performer of this season.

    As I said, wonderful thoughts on all the other issues. It is fun speculating and I’m sure there will time for that over the coming weeks. I just find speculating a little frustrating because no matter who you think it’s going to be, Wenger finds someone else.

    Cheers mate.

  8. Tony
    May 6, 2008 at 10:57 pm #

    Spanish, they will play him to start with but the season is a long time and by the end he will be struggling to retain his place. Arsenal are a flair team and someone like Flamini has shown his worth.

    Forget the odd few Champions League games, the Italian league football is very different to the Premier League and I don’t think it will suit him, but the money does of course.

    Vieira, Pires, Edu, Petit, Anelka, Overmars, Henry……..the list is endless. None have gone on to better things and now we can add Flamini.

    Change is good and Arsenal need tweaking. Flamini and hopefully Hleb leaving will force the hand of Wenger to replace and improve. If both stayed, nothing would have changed.

    What’s the odds of the return of Henry?

  9. Chris Rivers
    May 6, 2008 at 11:02 pm #

    That news has really upset me, not that i’m going to cry over spilt milk, but how do we expect to challenge for the Champions League when we give away one of our best players this season. It’s ridiculous, fair enough if he wanted to go but I get the impression that people behind the scenes at Arsenal didn’t do all they could to keep him which is what has really annoyed me. Flamini has been brilliant this season in my eyes and was becoming one of the best central midfielders in the league, the guy gives everything in a match and he has the ability to match his passion which is a rare combination.

    While I’m optimistic that Arsene will get somebody else in, and I’m hoping it’s Gareth Barry, I just worry that he won’t be as good as Flamini or won’t work together with Fabregas as well. Also what kind of message does this send out to the rest of the players if we let one of our young stars go? If Hleb goes as well then I fear a mass exodus will occur because players may not consider us serious title contenders this season, although I am known as a pessimist so take what I say with a pinch of salt.

    In the end we have lost a great player and one who could have helped us regain our crown at the top of the English tree, lets just hope Wenger has another rabbit he can pull out of his magic hat.

    http://www.betting.betfair.com

  10. Scope Knight
    May 7, 2008 at 12:28 am #

    Wake up guys,
    wenger is not in it for the trophies.his target is to make money for arsenal and he is good at that

  11. Victor
    May 7, 2008 at 1:22 am #

    In Arsenal, players come and go, but the premium brand – Arsenal still remains. Pat viera,Thierry Henry etc came and left their foot prints behind, so there is nothing so special about MF leaving.He is gone now, we should wish him well in his Milan challenge, the manager will as usual look 4 replacement, which to me are abound.

  12. darragh
    May 7, 2008 at 1:53 am #

    A shame Flamini had to leave, he has easily been the best player for the gunners this season. No hard feelings on the move. I hope we can get someone good to replace him!

  13. Demetrio
    May 7, 2008 at 7:10 am #

    In Italia today Gattuso has actually been linked with Arsenal. I dont think Flamini will have to battle for his spot, i also dont think Gattuso is going to be at Arsenal next season but i do think he will be in England. He wants to leave Milano for a new challenge and England is where he wants to play. I hope its just a rumor here that Wenger is going to make a bid for Gattuso, i love Gattuso for whats he’s done with our Azzurri, but he only has 2 at most 3 good years left in him. It also seems that Hleb may be on his way to Internazionale. Rumors here are that he has told his teammates he is leaving for Inter. I’ve never liked Hleb so i hope he does go.

  14. Spanish Fry
    May 7, 2008 at 7:53 am #

    Hleb’s comments to his teammates seem to be the work of the tabloids. I think it’s very hard to believe anything that is speculated on that doesn’t have any firm quotes.

    In saying that I still feel there is a strong chance Hleb will leave for Inter – which I would see as less of a loss than Flamini but a loss nonetheless.

  15. tom
    May 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    a gatusso – fabregas partnership in the midfield would be pretty exciting.

  16. Ronaldo7
    May 7, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    arsenal should concentrate on the FA Cup next year

    maybe the only thing they have a chance of winning…cause it wont be the premiership or the CL

    maybe they can go to tottenhams level and concentrate on starting small…the carling cup ?

  17. Ronaldo7
    May 7, 2008 at 4:08 pm #

    i say this cause the loss of flamini is big….

    wenger claims to be building a young side but then he lost a young star and maybe another…..no money to bring in quality like Villa….

    no trophies for arsenal….

  18. Mimi Wenu
    May 7, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    Someone please help me understand.Does it make economic sense to release a well proven player on a bosman only to spend about 10 million pounds on a replacement who’ll take a few months to a year to adapt to the EPL? Me thinks it would have been good business for the club to even give flamini 70,000 pounds a week (increment of 50,000 on his current pay would amount to 2.6 million a year), have him sign a 4 year deal and then sell him say after a year or two for 15 million pounds plus thereby bringing in a tidy 13 million pounds.Think about it.If indeed times are hard for the club as they makes us believe then they need to think of more innovative ways of breaking even and not just taking emotional decisons just for the sake of it.

  19. amiaq_ferguson
    May 7, 2008 at 6:19 pm #

    u did get Flamini for free. fair enuff.

    waste of time for me. u buy and groom your young wonderkid, and later they left for other club. what a waste.

  20. amiaq_ferguson
    May 7, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    i dont think Gattuso is going to move. And AW also not interested in signing big name. (unless if the player flop at their respective club-such as Henry-Juve? and Rosicky-Dortmund)

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  1. Arsenal FC Blog | Failure to replace Flamini is destroying Arsenal’s title hopes - November 17, 2008

    […] left at the end of last season I was hugely concerned about the impact it would have on our side. He was my Player of the Season last time around and I […]

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