Alex Song to Barcelona: Why Song Is Making the Biggest Mistake of His Career

Matthew Celentano@@Gunner_NYCFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2012

SO KON PO, HONG KONG - JULY 29:  Alex Song of Arsenal FC reacts during the pre-season Asian Tour friendly match between Kitchee FC and Arsenal at Hong Kong Stadium on July 29, 2012 in Hong Kong.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

It's official now, Alex Song is set to complete his move to Barcelona from Arsenal after the two teams agreed to terms on the transfer.

The move comes as a bit of a shock for Arsenal supporters. Song has always been a character on and off the pitch for the Gunners, a charismatic figure in the Arsenal dressing room and a player who I couldn't really picture the club without. 

Another shocking aspect of this deal was the speed in which the rumours gained momentum. It started off as mere speculation, and at one point it looked like the rumours were dismissed by Arsene Wenger and even Alex Song himself.

But the speculation got more and more serious, and before we knew it, Wenger had confirmed that Song was leaving for Barcelona in his post-match conference on opening day.

But is Song making the right decision? In my opinion, the defensive midfielder is making a mistake by joining Barcelona—a career-changing mistake.

It's the classic story of a big fish in a small pond becoming a big fish in a big pond. Arsenal is by no means a small club, and Song was by no means too big for the club. But he was certainly a key player at Arsenal, and it's safe to say he'll be much less important to Barcelona than he was to Arsenal.

As good as Song is with his beautifully lofted through balls and tough presence in midfield, I can't see him breaking into a Barcelona midfield consisting of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Alexis Sanchez and Javier Mascherano. All the players that I just named have established themselves as world-class talents—Song isn't quite world class, not just yet.

No, I can't see Song getting much playing time at the Nou Camp. Because of Barcelona's stacked midfield, the position Song might find himself playing more often than not is centre-back, alongside Gerard Pique. It's a position he's played for Arsenal before, but only in desperate situations. Song's passing ability suits him much better in a midfield position.

On top of the inevitable lack of playing time, I also don't see Song as much of a "Barcelona player." Although Arsenal play a very similar system to Barcelona's, with flowing attacking and passing football, Song has always preferred more direct passes. 

While this sometimes resulted in a fantastic assist, like his ball to Van Persie against Everton, it has also wasted good chances and given the opponent the ball. Often times when Arsenal were up a goal in the dying minutes of a match and just needed to pass the ball around the midfield, Song would opt for the Hollywood ball rather than a simple pass across the midfield.

Overall, I think Song is making a big mistake by leaving Arsenal for Barcelona. His role at Arsenal was a key one. He was the staple of their midfield and at times one of their main sources of creativity.

At Barcelona he'll be lucky if he's a rotation player and will struggle to break into the starting 11 and make his impact on the team.

Song was on the brink of becoming world class at Arsenal, but a move to the Catalan giants will see playing opportunities limited and could be a turn for the worst in his career.