Reports in Italy today claim that Tottenham are negotiating with AC Milan for their disgruntled former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini. The 25-year-old has endured a disappointing time in Italy since moving on a free transfer in 2008 as he’s struggled to maintain a first team place and often been forced to play as a full-back.
Last season, the French star declared his unhappiness to Sky Sport Italia, “I am a midfielder, I don’t want to play as a full-back.”
At least last season Flamini was a relative regular in the starting line-up, this season however, the combative midfielder has been limited to just seven starts in 15 league appearances. He has had to settle for sub appearances in eight of his last nine games for the club and his patience is wearing thin with the situation as his World Cup dreams disappear.
Arsenal were reportedly offered cash plus their former player for Emmanuel Adebayor from AC Milan last summer but Man City’s straight cash offer was enough to tempt Arsene Wenger. The Gunners are thought not to be overly keen on bringing back a former player who left them for nothing only two seasons ago embarrassing the club in the process. However, despite his history in the red of Arsenal, Harry Redknapp sees the all action midfielder as the perfect man to partner Wilson Palacios in the centre of the park with his tenacity and energy allowing the flair and creativity of the likes of Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar and Aaron Lennon to flourish.
Flamini didn’t enjoy the best of debut seasons as Milan failed to challenge rivals Inter for the Serie A title, they were also surprisingly knocked out in the Uefa Cup 3rd round by eventual finalists Werder Bremen. The Frenchman played in 29 league games last season but only starting 22 with a number of those appearances coming at full-back. He played a full 90 minutes in a Serie A match on only 16 occasions with most of those coming in defence. This led to speculation that he would be sold last summer after the arrival of new coach Leonardo who was expected to bring in his own personnel. However, Flamini remained but has failed to nail down a first team place which has seriously hampered his chance to make the French World Cup squad.
The move to Milan was expected to secure Flamini’s position in the French national squad but instead he has only featured once since the move and that was back in September 2008 soon after his arrival in Italy. A move back to England may earn the player more opportunity to break back into the national set-up with a permanent midfield role and a number of Premier League stars in the French set-up. There’s no doubt the player’s stock has fallen considerably and Flamini has come to realize his all-action style is more suited to the fast pace of the Premier League rather than Serie A. The player would favour a move back to London so Tottenham are now in pole position to sign him.
Flamini’s standing at Arsenal was very much as a bit-part player until his final season with the club. He made a total of 102 league appearances but until the 2007/08 season, he’s only started 37 games. However, in his final season he started all 30 of his league appearances as he established himself alongside Cesc Fabregas as the first choice central midfield pairing. He managed to displace the ever dependable Gilberto Silva in the side which was no mean feat. The French star finally got the consistent chance to prove his aggressive; all-action style was the perfect foil for enabling his Spanish partner to display his more offensive skills higher up the park. However, Flamini’s new found confidence and improved displays led to suitors across Europe as the player’s contract ran down.
Despite an offer of a new contract at Arsenal, Flamini decided to join Milan in the summer of 2008 in a deal worth a reported 5.6m euros a season over a 4-year contract. However, despite joining Milan to enhance his midfield reputation, Flamini soon found himself in a position similar to that at Arsenal. In terms of being regarded as a utility man at the club. However, injuries allowed the player to break back into the side at right-back but the Frenchman is now determined that this won’t be the case again in 2010 so is likely to leave.
A move from Milan to Tottenham may not sound likely but Harry Redknapp is renowned for his persuasiveness and will assure the Frenchman that he’s regarded as a central midfielder only and an important cog in Spurs new look side. The fee for the player is likely to be £7.5m as he is not considered one of AC’s main assets as Leonardo looks to rebuild what is an ageing side with a likely influx of South Americans.
Would Tottenham fans welcome the ex-Gunner to the club? Do you think a midfield pairing of Flamini and Palacios would give Spurs the strength they’ve lacked domestically, particularly away from home? Would Arsenal fans like to see the player return to your club? Let’s hear your views.