Alex Song spoke very honestly about his motivations for leaving Arsenal.
By now you’ve probably seen the Alex Song interview in which he opened up on his financial motivations for leaving Arsenal for Barcelona.
At the time, Song’s departure was a major blow, even if it was somewhat overshadowed by star striker Robin van Persie also leaving that summer for a controversial move to rivals Manchester United.
And yet, looking now at what Song’s main focus seemed to be at Arsenal, it looks like it was very much the right decision to part company with him as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
“I would go to training and see Thierry Henry – the King – turn up in an absolute gem of a car. I told myself I wanted the same car at all costs,” the Cameroonian was quoted by the Sun.
“I went to the dealership, signed the papers and arranged to pay for it by standing order – and just like that I had the same car as The King.”
He added: “During my entire time at Arsenal I couldn’t even save £100,000, while people thought I must be a millionaire.
“When Barcelona offered me a contract, and I saw how much I would earn, I didn’t think twice. I felt my wife and children should have comfortable lives once my career is over.
“I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games. But I didn’t give a f*** – I knew that now I would become a millionaire.”
Just to be clear – we’re not here to judge Song for putting money and the financial security of his family first, and many footballers will do so in what is a short career, but it’s also still clear this means he’s not the kind of player we should be keeping around.
Song’s comments very much suggest he was focused on the wrong things throughout his time at the Emirates Stadium – he looked at a legendary figure like Thierry Henry and thought about his car; he was told he wouldn’t play at Barcelona but he still jumped at the chance to move. That’s his choice to make, but it’s probably not the same choice players like Henry himself would make, or other great characters like Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, and countless others.
We’re lucky at Arsenal to have had so many great players and leaders at the club, but we’ve also had to put up with a number of heartbreaking departures down the years.
Still, with Song being so brutally honest about his experience, it certainly sheds some light on the players we did end up selling. Particularly under Arsene Wenger, you have to trust that there was more going on behind the scenes than we knew about, and that, you would hope, Wenger knew when it was the right moment to say goodbye.
The likes of Henry and Cesc Fabregas will no doubt have had quite different reasons for their moves to Barcelona, but all must be respected as much as Song’s. From Arsenal’s point of view, whatever reason a player has for losing their motivation to give it their all in a red and white shirt, that’s our cue to move them on and build around those who can be more loyal.