Mathieu Flamini’s emergence at the heart of the Arsenal midfield last season was a revelation. Previously used as a squad player, and with is contract not renewed at the beginning of 07/08 he was available on a Bosman last summer and AC Milan snapped him up.
Image courtesy of tpower1978
This dismayed many Arsenal fans, myself included, and this year, rightly or wrongly, Flamini’s absence has been blamed for some of our inconsistent results.
He did form a great partnership with Fabregas, but don’t forget we also lost Hleb, another key midfielder, to Barca, during the summer – and this has weakened our team further.
Some pundits and many Arsenal fans said he was a fool for leaving, and wouldn’t get games in an AC Milan team with the likes of Gattuso and Pirlo, and he would be playing lowly UEFA Cup football to boot. I thought the same, and above all I was sad to see him leave Arsenal.
At AC Milan he has had ups and downs, but is starting to look like a real bargain.
Ancelotti, the manager under whom Henry had a miserable time at Juventus before joining Arsenal, is the Milan manager now, and at the beginning of the season he was looking to see if Mathieu Flamini could be pushed into a full-back role. This utility player label was the one he had tried to shake off at Arsenal, and it seemed like he was back to square one at the San Siro:
“I had also played this role a couple of times at Arsenal, but I discussed his matter with Arsene Wenger and told him my natural position is in midfield.”
Flamini has started to get more games in central midfield, after a stint where Gattuso was injured, and is becoming a regular, although he only came off the bench in the 88th minute against Roma at the weekend. He has played in 13 games this season and Milan are 3rd in Serie A, 9 points behind Mourinho’s Inter. Their UEFA Cup campaign is also going well, they face Bremen in the round of 32 in February.
So Flamini isn’t doing badly – he has put in some of his commited performances for Milan – but he has sacrificed Champions League football and a guaranteed first team place. Arsenal’s form has been inconsistent this year, we might not even finish 4th, so although I hate to say it, if Flamini can hold down a place at AC then the move might have benefitted him.
A note: Read Flamini’s stats for AC Milan this season here (i.e. games played etc.!)