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Ever since Arsene Wenger took over the reigns at Arsenal in 1997, there has always been an array of talents coming specifically from a certain European country. Naturally, since Wenger is a Frenchman, most of the signings have been from France. While generally those signings have been a success, there can be those that failed to make the grade.
One thing’s for sure, Wenger always have French defenders. There is a whole list of French defenders from the first year that Wenger presided over Highbury up our current season at the Grove. From the likes Remi Garde to Gilles Grimandi to Pascal Cygan to Gael Clichy to William Gallas and not forgetting Mikael Silvestre; Wenger has a penchant our trusting his birth country for defensive duties.
I’m sure many, if not all of you have picked on the news surrounding 2 French defenders. Gallas of course played for Arsenal last season and has since rejected our 1 year offer to sign for our poorer neighbour for exactly the same length of contract that we offered, as well as taking a significant pay cut. Quite how he decided that the latter offer is better than the first, is beyond me.
No doubt we would boo him in the North London Derby but not necessary for his move to our rival but more towards our hatred of some of his actions when donning the red and white. I’m not saying he is not a quality defender who did not put his shift for us as on numerous occasions, he showed why he’s the first name on the French team sheet. However, some of his comments were unsavoury at best and also his antics at failure were quite close to being unacceptable, especially during his shortlived tenure as Arsenal captain.
Which brings us rightly to the other Frenchman. Contrasting to Gallas, Sebastien Squillaci is inching ever closer to fulfilling his dreams of working under Wenger. The Sevilla defender has been rumoured to be in London going through a physical examination with Arsenal. While Arsenal and Wenger has always preferred their transfer to be done under the covers, Sevilla apparently thinks otherwise. They have released statement stating the offer that we made and also that an agreement has been achieved.
Just where would the new signing fit in our squad? If he does sign, he would probably be fighting it out with Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny for the other centreback spot alongside Thomas Vermaelen. One of the many reasons why the partnership of Gallas-Vermaelen worked last season was because they are the opposite of each other. One prefer to be tight to the striker while the other prefer to mop up, if you like. I will admit that I know nothing of Squillaci’s style of play.
However, any competition for places is always good, as long as these players understand that they can’t always play and take that as a challenge. A challenge to improve themselves and get the approval of Wenger and the coaching staff, ahead of the other defenders. If they take it otherwise and just want to be first choice just because they think that they are better than the other one, then this kind of attitude will only bring around a negative atmosphere in the team.
The signing (if and when it happens) does make me feel better of our prospect for the season. We need the reinforcement to take over when we need to rest players. As can be seen from last season, continuous games can take its toil even on the fittest of players. Now, where is that keeper that everyone’s been going on about?