Arteta’s New Contract + Flamini Out = New Defensive Midfielder?
With his breathtaking performances last season, Francis Coquelin showed the fans what they’ve missed for a long while and the general consensus is that the club should invest in another holding midfielder with names like Arturo Vidal, Morgan Schneiderlin and William Carvalho mentioned. Dave Seager of One Nil Down Two One Up published an insightful article on the defensive midfielder conundrum. Trust me it’s worth a read.
What do we know about this puzzling defensive midfield issue? The Mirror reported that club captain, Mikel Arteta, has finally put pen to paper on a contract extension and agreeing verbally a couple of months ago. It’s been also reported that Arteta, 33, had some lucrative offers from Spain but he chose to remain with the Gunners. Injuries robbed Arteta last season and it ultimately cost him his place in the side because I don’t see him usurping Le Coq in that holding midfield role.
However, Arteta’s extension was probably an indication that Wenger was satisfied with his options in that playing position and hopes of signing a new holding midfielder would have been slim to none but with the latest news from EuroSport France reporting that Ligue 1 outfit, SC Bastia, is interested in acquiring the services of Mathieu Flamini, there could be some hope in getting a new DM after all.
SC Bastia finished in a modest 12th position in the French Ligue 1 last season. They were shocked by lower division side, Quevily, in the Round of 32 of the Coupe de France. However, they enjoyed a fairytale run in the Coupe de la Ligue where they went all the way to the final of the competition, beating sides like Auxerre, Caen, Rennes and Monaco, only to be thrashed resoundingly by PSG.
There might be a potential constraint with SC Bastia getting Flamini. The French club would want Arsenal to release the midfielder with one year left on his deal (same challenge Sao Paulo faced with Denilson Neves before Arsenal released him) and they would also need Flamini to take a significant wage cut because his salary at Arsenal is currently higher than any of the players on the club’s payroll, which also includes ex-Gunner, Sebastien Squillaci.
Shortly after the Squid’s contract expired in 2013, he joined SC Bastia on a free contract and he has established himself as a first team regular for the club, making 63 appearances in the last two seasons and even scoring four goals. This is a player that has been on the books of clubs like Monaco, Lyon, Sevilla and Arsenal, so it’s glaring that he just wanted to continue playing competitive football, instead of looking for the greens like Sagna of his peers.
If Flamini accepts for his contract to be terminated by Arsenal, as well as taking a wage cut to join SC Bastia, the Gunners would need to fill that slot with another player because Arteta cannot be relied upon to stay if should anything happen to Coquelin. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey have tried to play that role but we all know that they are better suited to the box-to-box role than playing as the anchor man.
The ball will be on Flamini’s court and he’s have to decide whether he wants to remain at the fringes of the club for an additional year before leaving on a free transfer, or walking away from his contract and signing for a club that isn’t doing too badly in his native France. He started his career in Marseille some 12 years ago and it would be nice if he decides to make that move you know.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
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