Arsene Wenger’s apparent willingness to finally douse the flames of Arsenal’s eight-year trophy drought with the cash-dispensing hosepipe could see the return of AC Milan midfielder Mathieu Flamini to the club.
The pre-season betting has the Gunners chalked up as fourth favourites to win next season’s Premier League though their 12/1 availability is a long way back from Chelsea and Manchester City’s second-favourite 11/5 prices.
Still, with some big improvements in the right areas, the north London club could appreciate in value by the time the campaign gets underway.
One of those areas is defensive midfield.
Since Alex Song’s departure, Arsenal have been lacking a physical presence who is also capable on the ball to gratify their style of play.
Abou Diaby looked set to fill the mantle in the early exchanges last time around, but his horrible injury record has since deemed him an unreliable replacement, while Mikel Arteta, for all his technical proficiency, is not blessed with the aggression to dominate a midfield.
Flamini, as proved in his swansong season at the Emirates, is equipped with both of these desired attributes and following the expiration of his Rossoneri contract, it would just be a matter of signing off on his wage demands for Wenger.
His AC exit is pending, despite the club’s intention to keep him; he wants more money than they’re prepared to offer and, as he demonstrated during his previous Arsenal stint, he’s not the most malleable character once he’s aware of a better offer elsewhere.
Wenger’s tendency to invest in youth could also be waived in this case due to the fact that Flamini wouldn’t cost them a dime in transfer fees. Having clocked up 29 years, he would normally be off limits but experience is something the Gunners could benefit from and, given that the Frenchman is well-rehearsed in his compatriot’s abilities, such a move represents very little risk on the club’s part, if any at all.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date