Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song has paid tribute to Arsene Wenger for making him the player he is today.
The Cameroon international made a surprise transfer to Barcelona this summer, despite being one of the Gunners’ better players from last season, but he is still grateful for the development he received at Emirates Stadium.
It was thought Arsenal would struggle to replace Song, who was seen as the only natural defensive midfielder in the squad that could carry out the role effectively, but Mikel Arteta has since filled in magnificently so far this season.
Song has come a long way since he arrived in London a nervous 17-year-old, and he credits Wenger’s treatment of him for why he has become such a success.
“I am who I am thanks to him,” he told Barça Magazine.
“When I came to England, he was a big help to me. I was very young, just 17, not 25 like I am now. Wenger was like a father to me.
“It was very hard for me at first because I had left my family behind in France, and so he treated me like a son.”
When Song left Arsenal for Barcelona, there were reports that Wenger had become tired of his attitude over the previous year due to contract negotiations being stalled, but Song denied that at the time and insists he is still on good terms with the Frenchman.
“I have a great relationship with Wenger. I want to thank him for believing in me,” he added.
“I want to give him back everything he gave me I'm sure he's happy to see where I am now and the kind of player I have become.
“He always said 'do you remember your first touches of the ball when you came to Arsenal? They're not the same as they are now'. And I'd answer 'you're right. They're certainly not the same as they are now'.”