The first blog article of new member gschwart.
From “One of Arsene’s most worthless signings” to Cameroonian cannonball
Of all the players in that Arsenal squad (platinum blonde Manuel Almunia included) perhaps the most enigmatic and intriguing is Cameroon international, Alexandre Song. Whether it is due to his “unique” hairstyle choices or a handful of great performances, Alex has certainly made a name for himself at the end of this past term.
Born September 9th, 1987, in Douala, Cameroon, nephew to Cameroon international and Galatasaray star Rigobert Song, football was in his blood. He moved on to France where he played for Bastia, breaking into the first team at the tender age of seventeen. His appearances earned rave reviews and caught the eye of one Arsene Wenger, who snapped him up on a season long loan with an option to buy at the beginning of the 2005 season. This was an exciting opportunity for the Cameroonian born French youth international, however he disappointed in his first term, failing to impress the Arsenal faithful. He did however, impress the one who matters most, Arsene Wenger, who surprisingly executed the clause to make Alex a full member of the team. Despite signing his first full deal, his performances did not yet meet par with the fans demands, and he was sent on loan to Charlton, where he helped them fight against the drop. Unfortunately, although Song impressed, and earned glowing reviews from his manager Alan Pardew, Charlton were relegated and Alex returned to Arsenal.
The 2007-2008 season would become the most defining of young Alex’s career. Coming off his impressive few months with the Addicks, Song featured in both the Emirates Cup and Amsterdam Tournament victories, while making many cameos in the league. His highlight would come in the Carling Cup against Blackburn where he was asked to marshal the backline for the first time. He did so with aplomb, helping to hold down Blackburn while showing poise and vision to assist Eduardo Da Silva’s extra time winner. It is in that moment that his Arsenal career began to take shape. From there he went on to the African Cup Nations with Cameroon, where he won a space in the Team of the Tournament, however could not help them in the final where they were defeated due to injury. Since his return from injury he has shown a new found maturity filling in at the heart of defense, where Wenger believes his future lies, stepping in the loss against Manchester United amongst other fixtures.
That is Song’s Arsenal career so far, however the question now becomes, what lies ahead for the twenty year old? How can he impact the next term? Personally, I believe Song has an incredible future for the club, which will take shape next season. This is because he has really worked to improve his thinking in game, and his mentality has always struck me as the problem to begin with. When I first watched Song, I never doubted he had talent. The problem I saw with his play was a lack of composure, an air of nervousness, not to mention a host of poor decisions. These can all be attributed to his age and his inexperience. When Wenger snapped him up from Bastia, he, in many ways, tossed him into the deep end the following campaign. It is no easy thing to move from the French Second Division to the EPL at the age of seventeen, and that showed in Song’s play, he was hesitant to let his creativity flow, and either passed it short, or held the ball far too long. This year, he seemed to wake up and blossom as a player, almost overnight. His touches are more confident, passes more accurate and creative, and his decisions better. He still makes clear-cut mistakes, such as letting two long balls bounce in behind him against United, however, on each occasion, he used his impressive strength to muscle his way back to the ball and cut it clear.
Next season Wenger has stated his future as a center back, however, I wonder if his performances in the midfield for Cameroon won’t temp Wenger to deploy him in the holding role left vacant by Flamini. Personally I think he can succeed there or in center back. My case for this is my faith in Wenger. Wenger has repeatedly shown his desire to keep Song playing, and that tells me he shows talent in training that isn’t always apparent on the match days. However, his improvements on the pitch certainly show the potential to be huge center back coverage next year. Further, with Djourou likely moving into the midfield, Song will have more time to flourish at the back.