Alex Song – Arsène Wenger admitted that the Cameroonian’s future is on the line
The likelihood of Alex Song following Robin van Persie out the exit gates of Arsenal’s Hertfordshire headquarters has strengthened as Arsène Wenger admitted that the Cameroonian’s future is on the line. Asked on Friday morning whether Song’s departure, and more signings, could be on the cards, Wenger responded: “Both can happen.”
The loss of Song, whose efforts had been central to Arsenal earning Champions League football last season, would be substantial. “I don’t know at the moment, the decision has not been made,” Wenger added. But the fact there is even a decision to be made is intriguing for a much improved player, now aged 24, who has three years remaining on his contract.
That contrasts notably with the crux of what forced Arsenal to sell Van Persie. “We regret that we have lost a great player and for one simple reason – he only had one year left on his contract. He wanted to go,” said Wenger, who confessed that while Van Persie’s destination was disappointing, there was not much option.
“That is not what we wanted but there was not much choice. We had only one club really interested at the level we thought would be acceptable and that was Man United. At the end of the day, that was the only decision we could make.
“We live in a job where we have to live with reality. We wanted to keep Robin van Persie, we could not extend his contract, and when there is only one year to go and the player wants to go. I am surprised that people find that situation not realistic.
“I don’t deny that it is a massive challenge to replace him, so we have to be even more a team and work even more together to compensate that loss. We have lost world-class players before and we always survived.
“We are better prepared because we anticipated the situation. That doesn’t mean it is easy to replace a player like Robin – you don’t find players like Robin. We are prepared and had anticipated that situation for a long, long time. We didn’t manage to extend Van Persie’s contract, we had to act and that is what we did.”
Nuri Sahin, the Turkey international who has been marginalised at Real Madrid, remains a prime target to come in should Song leave. “He is one of the players we follow,” said Wenger. Arsenal remain in pole position despite Liverpool’s chase.
Arsenal’s new captain will be Thomas Vermaelen, who is promoted from his role as vice-captain, a position which now goes to Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal face Sunderland in their opening Premier League game of the season on Saturday and Wenger admitted he will assess the fitness of England forward Theo Walcott before deciding if the England forward can play a part.
Walcott has a thigh problem that caused him to miss England’s midweek friendly win over Italy, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) and the defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) are both definitely out of Saturday’s game.
The new signing Santi Cazorla will be monitored after his long trip to Puerto Rico with Spain, while Lukas Podolski is expected to lead the attack following the sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
Of the more long-term injuries at Arsenal, Jack Wilshere continues his rehabilitation from an ankle injury while the defender Bacary Sagna does likewise from a broken leg suffered in May. – Guardian (UK)