Signing Song points to Barcelona greediness

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The arrival of Santi Cazorla at Arsenal earlier this month heralded a wave of pre-season optimism unseen at the Emirates Stadium for some time.

Prior to signing Cazorla, Arsenal had moved uncharacteristically early in the transfer market to ensure the acquisitions of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, as Arsene Wenger abandoned his usual frugality.

The events of this summer were, however, always likely to be overshadowed by the sulking Robin van Persie, and the Dutchman's imminent departure to Manchester United will have extinguished the optimism of many.

A successful transfer window has turned into a disappointing one for Arsenal, and could transform into a poor one should Alex Song leave the club for Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have made their interest known to the Arsenal midfielder and Wenger has now reportedly told Song he is free to leave the club after becoming irritated by the player's refusal to dismiss Barca's approach.

Song's exit will not represent a catastrophe for Arsenal and he can be replaced more easily than Van Persie, but the Cameroon international was arguably the club's key performer last season, behind his captain.

The 24-year-old flourished last term, with his incisive and imaginative passing contributing significantly to Van Persie's 37-goal campaign and marshalling of Arsenal's back-four providing an inconsistent defence with adequate cover.

Barcelona's interest comes as no great surprise, but where and how Song fits into a side already blessed with one of the finest midfields ever assembled is a more pertinent issue.

In Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, Barcelona have a central triumvirate that has brought so much success for club and country, and it would take a player of some repute to upset the balance in the Nou Camp midfield.

If Xavi is the pivot by which all play revolves, then Iniesta is the surging dynamo supplemented by the solidity of the busy Busquets parading ahead of the defence.

Busquets, then, is the player that Song will most likely have to oust from Tito Vilanova's first-choice XI and, over the course of an arduous season, the latter will be given a chance to prove his worth.

But a move for Song smacks of nothing more than greediness from Barcelona, with the Catalan giants keen to strip an increasingly forlorn club of one of their most highly-regarded assets when there can be no great designs to integrate him into the first-team.

There is a sense that Song would take the role of the recently departed Seydou Keita and be Barca's midfield man for all occasions, but not one afforded regular starting opportunities.

Song is a very talented player indeed, but does not possess the same technical ability or tactical acumen of the players already at the disposal of Pep Guardiola's successor.

Barcelona will compete for all honours available next season, with or without Song, and their priority must surely lie away from the pursuit of another midfielder.

Vilanova's first job in the transfer market was to find himself a recognised regular left-back in the wake of Eric Abidal's health issues, and he did so with the signing of Jordi Alba from Valencia after an impressive Euro 2012.

Guardiola's former assistant has also identified the recruitment of reinforcements in central defence an issue that must be addressed, given Carles Puyol's advanced years and the transformation of Javier Mascherano into a makeshift centre-back.

It could also be argued that Barca would do well to bring another recognised striker to the Nou Camp as David Villa makes his way back from serious injury and given the likelihood that Lionel Messi will not find the net with such regularity this season.

Cesc Fabregas has shown that he is capable of occupying a role at the peak of a packed midfield, but the former Arsenal captain cannot be entrusted to score as frequently as a player more accustomed to playing in a striker's role.

It is at the summit of the pitch that Barcelona will need to improve if they are to wrest the Spanish title from the clutches of Real Madrid, and Jose Mourinho will hardly turn his increasingly large head should Vilanova end the transfer window with only Song to show for his endeavours.

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Alex Song
Premier League

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