Alex Song had a great season for Arsenal last year, there is not denying that. But there is still plenty room for improvement though for Barca’s new signing, as I still feel he can be sloppy on the ball and be a bit lazy when tracking back at times. But no one’s perfect, right? You should credit where credit is due, and Alex Song deserves credit, he was a key player for Arsenal last year, and a very important asset for Arsenal Football Club until… Up until the player had his head turned by Barcelona’s interest and his agent helped conclude a deal for him to join the Spanish giants. No player is bigger than the club and Arsenal have to and will move on from the recent departures of Alex Song and Van Persie! These are two tough tough players to replace but Arsene Wenger has found solutions to similar situations in the past. Arsenal are tipped to sign a replacement midfielder for Alex Song too, with the likes of Nuri Sahin and Yann M’vila constantly linked with moves to Arsenal.
Now from a Barcelona perspective:
What Can Alex Song Bring To The Table For Barcelona?
Barcelona currently have some of the world’s finest midfielders currently occupying their midfield including the likes of: Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Busquets and Javier Mascherano, who has recently signed a new deal at the club, now, that’s some line-up, would Alex Song really fit in?
I personally think he would, I am not saying that he’s a guaranteed starter for the Catalan giants, but I do think that the club may see Mascherano as more of a centre-back/sweeper now, as last season he made 38 appearances at centre-back compared to just 2 appearances in his natural midfield position. Then I also think that Barcelona prefer to push Fabregas and Iniesta forward into very attacking roles, with Fabregas having spent only 11 of his 33 games last season in central midfield and Iniesta having spent just 16 of his 35 games there. That leaves Xavi as the primary central midfielder, with Busquets operating deeper. So, he will get games, not nearly as much as he would at Arsenal, but he will get games. It is important to note, Alex Song can also operate as a centre back too so it will be interesting to see how he is utilised for the La Liga giants.
Moreover, Alex Song will certainly fit into the Barcelona style of play, which similarly to Arsenal places a major emphasis on possession and ‘keeping the ball on the deck’. Which, as we saw from Song last season, he can do this very efficiently, with an average 60 passes per game last season, in all competitions, and a pass success of 83.8%, which could be better, but then his frequent attempts at ‘Hollywood Passes’ could be partly to blame for this being relatively low. However, you can complain about his Hollywood Passes being a waste of possession when something simpler was on at times or you can think about how such passes can be extremely valuable and beneficial for his team. He had a very good playing chemistry with Van Persie, the two were always on the same wavelength, leading to some great goals by Van Persie, because of Songs quite exquisite passes at times last season. He obtained 11 assists in 34 games last season for Arsenal, a great record, providing the bit of creativity they needed after the departure of Cesc Fabregas. He also finished the season with the most accurate through balls per game, with 0.7, a great achievement, as he despite being more advance than previous years, still playing a more conservative position at Arsenal in comparison with someone like David Silva. In addition to this, he also obtained 1.4 key passes per game, another great feat for a more defensive midfielder.
However, I don’t think it should be all praise for the Cameroon international. Defensively, stat-wise, he is pretty great, with 2.9 tackles per game and 1.9 interceptions per game, however, I do think he could improve a lot. I think he gives away the ball too easily, with what looks like half-hearted passes, or he doesn’t track back quickly enough, leading to gaps in the Arsenal midfield. If he didn’t have the disciplined Arteta next to him, Arsenal would have been punished a lot more times than they were and I can’t see them being too happy with this at Barcelona, as there is quite a lot of emphasis on the high-pressing, so he must make sure he does not get caught out doing this. However, you could turn that on its head and say he would be more disciplined with a more creative player next to him, like he was with Fabregas. So, I do feel there are aspects of his game that need improving, but they’re not things to do with ability, more mentality, which can be improved on.
I do think that he is a player who can be replaced adequately by Arsenal, as he does have faults. Signing someone like Yann M’Vila or Capoue would make great replacements although, there are question marks over the attitude of M’vila.
From a Barca perspective I think a good point to take into consideration the fact that they’ve sold Seydou Keita, who could both defend and attack and had a bit more physical prowess than their other players, sounds a bit like Alex Song doesn’t it? So in signing Song, they would have another player who could do this, who would be extremely useful to them and at only 24 years of age.
Barcelona were never in desperate need of Alex Song but Barca’s latest signing will offer the club something different and offer further strength in-depth something that should never be underestimated.
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