According to ESPN FC, Mathieu Flamini is set to bring an end to his second spell at Arsenal.
The Frenchman’s contract is due to expire at the end of the current campaign and it is understood that Arsene Wenger does not plan on bringing the defensive midfielder back. Flamini turns 32 in March and his advancing age means a return to North London is not in the cards.
Flamini has been in and out of the squad since resigning for the club in 2013. He was a key figure during the 2013/2014 campaign but his influence on the pitch waned towards the second half of the season. Since then, the has had trouble making consistent appearances in the squad, with his opportunities limited to cup competitions, as a substitute, or when injuries hit Arsenal’s midfield like in November when both Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla were ruled out long-term.
Flamini’s appearances will be limited for the rest of the season thanks to Coquelin’s return from injury and the signing of Mohammad Elneny. The experienced midfielder didn’t do himself any favors on Tuesday when he conceded a penalty to Barcelona almost immediately after he’d come on the pitch as a substitute.
— Top Corner (@HITCtopcorner) February 24, 2016
He left Arsenal in 2008 on a free transfer after joining the club in 2004, also on a free transfer, from Marseille. After spending five seasons in with AC Milan, Flamini rejoined Arsenal, again on a free transfer, in 2013, a week before the end of the transfer window.
Flamini enjoyed his best season with the club during the 2007/2008 season when he formed a formidable partnership with Cesc Fabregas at the heart of Arsenal’s defense. The Gunners came close to winning the title that year, only to falter the last few months after a horrific injury to Eduardo severely tested the mental strength of the squad.
Flamini is a divisive figure amongst Arsenal fans. Whilst his commitment to the club, certainly on the pitch, and his aggressive style on the pitch can never be questioned, he is reliable to make a few bewildering decisions per game or be at the center of a comical sequence of events.
Whilst the penalty he conceded on Tuesday is the newest example of a typical Flamini moment, plenty others come to mind. The way in which he conceded an own goal in the dying moments of a match against Swansea City a few seasons back immediately comes to mind.
Often, his mistakes or involvement in such sequences stem from poor positioning. A constant criticism throughout Flamini’s Arsenal career has been that he sits too deep, getting in the way of his center backs, and allowing the opposition too much space in front of him.
Then again, Flamini will always be a part of Arsenal folklore for his two goals scored against Tottenham in the Capital One Cup earlier this season.
And let us not forget the well-documented “bromance” he shares with Mesut Özil.
Flamini to date has made 243 total appearances for the club, with 167 coming in the Premier League, and 71 from off the bench. He’s scored 13 goals for Arsenal during his seven seasons at the club. Flamini came close to joining Galatasaray this summer only the deal to fall through.
Arsenal will certainly be in the market for a central midfielder this summer. Besides Flamini, it appears that Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky are set to leave the club. Arteta may retire after two injury riddled seasons and his contract expiring this season, as well. Wenger may look to add the Spaniard to his backroom staff at the end of the season, though. Rosicky’s contract will expire at the end of the season but the Czech international is likely set to continue his career elsewhere.xt
The winter addition of Elneny serves as a replacement for one of those players and the emergence of Alex Iwobi through the middle of the pitch also mitigates the loss of these three experienced midfielders. However, with Santi Cazorla’s advancing age and Jack Wilshire’s continued health concerns, another central midfielder will be a priority for Wenger this summer.