Barcelona midfielder Alex Song has completed a season-long loan move to English Premier League side West Ham United.
The former Arsenal man returns to London and was paraded at Upton Park before the Hammers’ game against Southampton this afternoon.
He is Sam Allardyce’s eighth signing of this summer as he looks to build on their final position of 13th place last season, and will wear the number 30 shirt.
Song: Barcelona outcast
Song has spent the majority of his two-year spell at the Nou Camp on the substitutes’ bench, and was unused in their opening 3-0 La Liga victory over Elche last Sunday.
The arrival of Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla was another sign that the Cameroon international was not an immediate part of Luis Enrique’s first-team plans, with the new manager informing the 26-year-old that he was free to leave the club.
He should fit in nicely with Allardyce’s style of play at West Ham, as his defensive midfield role will only add to their hard-fought and stubborn resistance.
Although a holding midfielder by trade, former Spain and Cameroon coach Javier Clemente has described him as a “much better player in attack than he is defensively”.
Song came through the ranks at French club Bastia but first came to recognition when Arsene Wenger brought him to the Gunners as a 17-year-old in 2005. During his seven years there, he gradually progressed all the way through to becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet by the time Barca came calling.
He spent his first couple of years mainly being deployed in cup matches and filling in domestically when senior players were injured. Charlton Athletic took him on loan for the second half of the 2006/07 campaign, but despite strong performances he could not save them from relegation from England’s top flight.
After returning to Arsenal, he played regularly at centre-half in their run to the semi-finals of the League Cup. His absence because of international duty was no coincidence with them coming unstuck at the hands of rival Tottenham Hotspur.
2008/09 provided his breakthrough season as he established himself as a key member of the squad, registering over 25 league appearances in each of the next four campaigns.
A £15 million offer from the Catalan Giants was too good to turn down and he made 20 appearances during his first season, with the La Liga title providing his first and only major club honour so far.
He has also won 47 caps for Cameroon and has appeared at two FIFA World Cups in 2010 and 2014.
Song is a very shrewd signing from Allardyce. Although he hasn’t featured prominently at the Nou Camp, along with his Arsenal exploits it provides him with plenty of experience. And now he is more of a box-to-box midfielder nowadays, he can maybe provide more creativity for the Hammers.