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How have Hleb and Flamini got on since leaving?

This question arose because yesterday I made the point that I couldn’t see Arsenal screwing up its contract issues with a player so that he left.  One commentator wrote back and suggested that Flamini was one such case where Arsenal had done just that.

I beg to differ – and I believe Hleb and Flamini should be lessons to everyone.

Wenger said that Flamini could leave 18 months ago if he wanted to, but without a good offer from anywhere, Flamini chose to stay for the last year of his contract.   During that final year the quality of his performance improved greatly, and as we all know Wenger offered Flamini a new contract, and Flamini turned it down.

The point is quite simple – Flamini had not been good enough, but then had one great season.  Wenger had not wanted to offer a contract extension earlier because the quality was not there, and when it came to the time for offering a new contract, he still wasn’t sure the change in Flamini’s ability would last.  So the new offer reflected that.

In that regard he may well have been right.  Since moving to Milan Flamini has had a paucity of games, and has been reported in the press (which of course is an unreliable source) to the effect that if he doesn’t start getting some more matches he will ask to move again.

Of course we could argue that had he stayed at Arsenal his standard of performance would have stayed high – but there is no real evidence either way.  The point is Milan have been disappointed by what he has to offer.

As for Hleb, the following comment was posted yesterday on Untold Arsenal, which quotes from the Mail

“Former Arsenal star Alexander Hleb has admitted to being unsettled in Spain, hinting that he may want to leave Barcelona at the end of the season. The 27-year-old Belarus international says he is not getting enough first team action…”

So it would seem that both players are not having such a great time of it away from Arsenal, either because Arsene Wenger got the players playing above their normal level, or because they were both at their peak, and have now gone into natural decline.

Either way the truth is, their employers are unhappy (as witness the fact that they bought the players who were first team regulars and are not playing them that much) and the players are unhappy (they want to play more – and in the case of Hleb is seems he has not learned Spanish fast enough for his employers likes).

If we take this back to the issue of screwing up contracts by not signing up players quickly enough, the answer seems to be that Arsenal have got it absolutely correct by not paying the earth for players who simply can’t deliver at the highest level year after year.

It does seem to me (and it is just a personal matter of course) that there is an assumption over Flamini in particular that having discovered great form after several years of being a bit-player, this would automatically continue.   I think that when a player suddenly comes good after several years, there is no guarantee at all that his quality of form will continue, and it is more likely that the one year will seem to be an oddity, not the start of performances at the highest level.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

19 comments to How have Hleb and Flamini got on since leaving?

  • carry

    Is it me or does anyone else start to feel ditrustful of the board and Wenger as there are clearly issues there. Firstly the Walcott and Van Persie situation with their contracts why have they not been tied up. The whole Gazadis appointment was mean’t to hasten these things not hold them up. Why the hell we had to wait until over a year to get a new Cheif exec is beyond me. Wenger seems to be on a different planet 2% of being a giant, a giant in the second half of the table. He’s not intrested in Inler he could have Appiah on a trial for a free. The only player we have been solidly linked with is Arshavin but he is not the CB we need, he is not the DM we need. Maybe I’m wrong and Wenger has a loud of excellent targets but he is not giving off that impression. I can Imagine we will have the customary last hour bid for another player because he will weigh in with a meesly half the price offer. I understand you have the credit crunch and it effects the way clubs operate but Arsenal dont seem to have any interest in being competitve at all. The board are quite happy to line their pockets and have a team of nearly men. Thing is if they are that bothered about making money why not sell up. We are basically average and that’s it, Im not being bitter or foolish but we are the Valencia of England of the Feyanoord, Roma or Borussia Dortmund in the fact that we will pop up every now and then but nothing is sustained. I’m sure we’ll be back but we don’t seemed to have that sustained class because If we did than players would have no qualms about spending the rest of their careers at the club. Look at Man Utd with Giggs, Scholes and Nevielles. Becks only went because he fell foul of fergie. He never courted Real the way Vieira did. Henry says he a gooner for life but I garuntee if he’d been at United he’d finish there. Our whole outlook for the club needs to change.

  • Gooner

    Cary, good points. I think in general With the defoe deal coming to light i think it shows how ludicrous the transfer window and general transfer are..There is no loyalty from players to clubs and i think fifa should now consider taking action on players such as downing and defoe because they are playing the fans for mugs. Downing maybe signed a deal for middlesborough to get the maximum profit from him but he must of known that he will demand a move next season. Now defoe going back to spurs just shows that players dont play for the badge on their shirt but either the pay packet or who the managers, maybe they should bring out contracts between players and managers i.e. Defoe and Harry, Ronaldo and Fergie…then you’ll see a massive frenzy for managers and players. Where does this stop, i for one think fifa need to stop it because they have shifted the power from clubs to players. Football should be about loyalty and not absolutely absurd what has become of the transfer market.

  • ray

    whats happend to gael clichy? toure has neve been the same since african nations and malaria. and gael clichy hasnt been the same since the birmingham game. i think he gets away with a few to many mistakes at the moment ( maybe im being harsh). i remeber an analysis last season the amount of goals we conceedeed from crosses on his flank compared to sagnas was ridiciolous. anyway if he doesnt improve within a season or two the amazing pedro bothelo wil replace him ( thats if pedro isnt destined to be a midfielder )

  • paresh

    I think this whole loyalty thing is a bit over excited. I work for a company that pay me very well and have recently sent me on a few qualifications that have helped me strengthen my CV.

    But if another company came to me – a bigger company, a richer company with greater chance for wider exposure and they offered me more money I’d move tommorrow. I’d pack the car, tie up the wife and drive at 90mph to their headquarters to sign the new contract of employment.

    I don’t see why people expect footballers to be any different.

    Just look at Defoe. Rednapp rescued him from a nightmare at White Hart Lane under Ramos. Its only natural that he should want to follow his manager back there as he knows the manager will support him whatever. Coupled with the fact that even if he stays, Pompey will have to sell other players just to avoid administration…. the only way is down for them as sad as it is to say out loud. Adams is sitting on a timebomb.

    So is it really any wonder that Defoe whats to leave the sinking Titanic and jump on to a bigger better boat who are still (just) in Europe (though he’d be cup tied I imagine) and will pay him more money?!

    And Parsi, you are wrong about the board lining their pockets – none of them receive more than 10k a year from the club. I earn quite a bit more than twice that working in the beer industry.

    Though you are right about being average. In terms of European history, we are behind Man U, Liverpool and even Nottingham Forest. In terms of size we are dwarfed by Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, and again United.

    We are however better than 20 other teams in our league and consistantly show in the top 16 in European football….. so it could be worse! We could be Southend or Histon and get excited by making the 3rd round of the FA Cup!!

  • raj

    ray, excellent lol

  • MoMONEY

    That is what makes Wenger great IMO… His ability to make players play to their full potential. It is the most important and underrated aspect of coaching as well. Most of it depends on confidence and when the manager convinces you that you are world class, you convince yourself and eventually play better then ever expected. Its the truth in any sport and Wenger has mastered this technique…

  • carry

    raj, please dont get my hopes up like that

  • paris

    carry, few reasons; 1. Injury prone. 2. hi wages 3. he’s not under 20 and not french

  • raj

    Denilson is not yet the finished article, and when he is, he will likely be quite a talent. But as it stands this season, he is far from the 6th best midfielder in the league. As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. I¿ve heard this argument for Denilson before, so I will respond now as I did then. First off, I¿m not here to slag off Denilson. But he has been more of a detriment to Arsenal¿s success, in my opinion, than an aid. Firstly, as a defensive midfielder, he is sorely lacking. His insistence (and this goes for the far inferior Alex Song as well) on bombing forward has left our best player and the one through whom our best attacks flow, Cesc Fabregas, forced to stay back in defence, which has left our offense looking flat¿ remember, Adebayor, who needs 3 tries to spill water from a glass onto the floor, scored 30+ goals last season with the consistent service provided by Cesc. Secondly, his passing leaves something to be desired. The stats show him completing a high percentage¿ however, those same stats include the many, many passes he has bone backward with. These occur most frequently when Denilson, through no fault of his own, is played out of position on the wing. But in the spirit of complete honesty, more often than not, when Denilson takes possession in attack, that attack tends to stall and regress into a kickabout 20-30 yards from goal. Third, and finally: if Gilberto Silva had not been sold in the transfer window, who would you have been starting alongside Cesc all season? I know for me it¿s always the Rock of Gilberto. To Denilson¿s credit, he works hard, and I believe in a more attacking midfield role, he will play more freely and excel. But his limitations (physically weak, lack of pace, shies from challenges) seem to outweigh his contributions this season.

  • dantheman

    Being a football fan you get players who you love for many reasons, Some who tried hard, Some who are workhorses, Some who are just brilliant & some who you put there heart and soul into every game and play football not for money but for the joy of the game. For me Kolo Toure has all of the above and much much more.

    I love the guy and if this rumor is true that he cleared out his locked before saying a tearful goodbye to the staff at the training ground are correct then i myself will have a cry for the player who has grown on me and has now become one of my all time favorite players in the clubs history.

    When he first came on to the club I was not sure what we signed, I could tell that the guy was hungry to win and was very powerful and played with fire in his belly, I remember him going in for a 50/50 challenge with Peter Schmeichel and sending him crashing into his own goal and flat on his back, I could not stop laughing. I said to the gooner next to me, “That Toure is an animal i like him” Wenger playing him all over the place, RB LB as a wide man an at times he looked to be nothing more then a squad player, but then Toure found his place at the heart of the defence next to Sol Campbell and between the pair of them they became a solid partnership. For me that partnership was perfect. You had Sol who was great in the air and Toure who had loads of pace to sweep up.And it worked like a dream as we went 49 games unbeaten and won the double.

    Since the Campbell partnership Toure has looked a different player if I am completely honest,The problem we have had since Sol is that Gallas and Toure are both very similer in styles and both need that big powerful CB next to them. For me Toure and Senderos was the future partnership until Gallas arrived.

    And to the present day and reports that Gallas and Toure have had a bust up in training and cant stand the sight of each other. On 1 hand you have a player who has been since smoking till the early hrs of the morning, A player who sat down in protest at the way the team was playing, A player who runs to the press every time he feels he needs to get something off his ego. And on the other hand you have a player who was the lowest paid player for years at Arsenal and never moaned about it, A player who has given everything and more, A player who has supported his player and has never said anything about them to the press. A player who did things the right way.Its seems like the manager had to pick between the 2 and he picked the french 1.

    If Toure is sold then i will feel sick, I would feel let down by Wenger yet again. I would feel that my heart of the club I love has been ripped out yet again.

  • don't believe the hype

    What a shame. Tony posts an interesting article about Flamini and Hleb’s fortunes since leaving Arsenal and what does he get in response? Not one comment related to the article but a diatribe against the club you claim to support. If that is what you want to do, this is not the place for you – try Le grove – you’ll fit in perfectly there.

    I just hope any of the current Arsenal team who might get itchy feet will reflect on those two. After 3 years at the club they finally played to their potential and had a regular starting spot in one of the top teams in Europe but chose to leave for all that glitters, which turns out not to be gold after all. When Arsene gets his 2% and we are dominating the PL and Europe, I hope they and all the naysayers on blogs and in the stadium choke on their own bile.

  • Would have been interesting to have seen what could have happened had they both stayed and we bought Nasri.

    Players do not realise what they have until they leave Arsenal.

  • sid

    Great post on Flamini, I hadn’t really considered that perspective and have to admit that I was/am in the crowd that thinks Wengers dealings over Flamini, Gilberto and Diarra were simply bad management. I guess it is easy to think this in retrospect but I also remember thinking how progressively slow and clumsy Gilberto looked in the last 1 or 2 seasons. Also, Diarra was obviously a good player but more than a little disruptive. Similarly, Flamini is finding out (as countless others have) that life after Arsenal isn’t always rosey). A lot of Fabregas’ dip in form has been attributed to the departure of Flamini, perhaps the appearance of Flamini’s game was enhanced and equally dependant on Fabregas being infront of him. Another thought on why our midfield has suffered so much is the chopping and changing of the back four. I don’t think we should still be experimenting with defensive partnerships 10 games in to the season. This kind of thing should be organised at the beginning of the season along with a reliable and regular Captain. Only then can a team build and progress in a consistent attacking fashion. Can anyone name a title-winning side that has messed about with a back four so much over the season. I know its hard for a lot of us to swallow but perhaps Toure has peaked, he’s been heavy and slow since he came back from Africa. I think we should cash in on him. I do think we need to replace him also but for simply for more back up. I feel that given a long run. Sagna,Gallas,Djourou & Clichy will become formidable. For all of his mental issues, Gallas is great and has saved us countless times. I’m not even against Senderos coming back to provide experienced cover for these.

  • arsenalcolumn.wordpress.com

    I have seen both of them play but like Ashley Cole they were players made by Arsenal for Arsenal. At Milan Flamini can’t play in his natural position as they have Pirlo and Emerson and because of such players their definition of defensive midfielder is different. They want him to be the next Gatusso which means playing on the right or left of a central midfield diamond and run around and try and get the ball like a headless chicken. Also playing here means his average passing ability is exposed.
    Hleb on the other hand needs minutes and time to get used to the league. He is playing as a left sided forward in a 4-3-3 rather than a left midfielder that he is used to at Arsenal. Time will tell but being Arsenal’s best player last season he will come good. I think I will write an Article about this on my blog. Thanks

  • don't believe the hype

    “I don’t think we should still be experimenting with defensive partnerships 10 games in to the season.”

    To be fair Sid, those changes have been forced due to injury. Chelsea have had more injuries in recent times and look at how they are suffering, whilst Liverpool and Man U have been very fortunate with injuries to their defenders. This stability at the back has enabled them to build a strong basis to their seasons so far.

  • red

    Hleb is an idiot.

    He signed for a team, where the direct competition for his place comes from THEIRRY HENRY and LIONEL MESSI. Of course he is going to be third choice. His job is to be there when one of them is injured or tired, and unfortunately for him they’re both doing great.

    But hey this will probably be the easiest league medal Hleb is likely to ever get.