I think it is just possible we are about to sign B….

Blaise Matuidi

Now I could be utterly wrong, completely round the twist, and half way up the flagpole, but I got word – a sort of whispering in my ear from the odd semi-contacts that I have – that St Etienne are willing to do a deal.

Matuidi is a defensive midfielder who gets lots of yellow cards and is rated by all who see him. He is 21. He’s played lots of games in the French first and second divisions and for France at under 21s and lower levels. Of course that doesn’t mean he is French (his parents are Angolan) but through one of those rules (like the ones that say you can play for England even if your parents aren’t English and you’ve never been to England) he plays for France. But of course he could change his mind and play for another country.

Anyway, back to the man, he went to the famous Clairefontaine academy. and eventually went to Troyes with whom he got promotion from the second division, and then went back down two years later.

He then went to Saint-Étienne, and (so the story goes) Gilles Grimandi kept watching him. So what we have is a player who has spent much of his time in teams on the edge of relegation (although SE did get into the UEFA cup 2 years ago). He’s played at under 18, under 19, and as I said under 21. With SE on the up and into the UEFA Cup there was a chance they could keep him, but with them having sunk down to the depths again, there is every chance he will go. He’s played too long in relegation and 2nd division teams.

Now the transfer bit. There is a word going around that Arsenal are signing him for £3m, although previously talk was of £8m. There is talk that Tottenham and Everton want him. Recent talk says Wenger will pay up to £10m for him. Matuidi says he wants to play in England (well they all say that.)

Of course these stories do the rounds all the time, its just that this one pops up and down goes round the corner and then comes back again. If I am right you read it here, well not first, but perhaps fifth or sixth. If I am wrong, I deny everything. Someone hijacked my computer and wrote all this dribble and it is nothing to do with me. I’d never predict anything quite so stupid.

If you want to comment on this story, and you are commenting for the first time, please write Ref Matuidi at the start – then even if you meander off topic I’ll know that you are a real live person and not some snark who is doing a cut and paste job. And if you do post here you will almost certainly have the benefit of having your words turn up half an hour later on Team Talk. Nine of yesterday’s posts ended up there, and I am sure the nutters can do better today.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009 (or (c) Micky Mouse if I have got the story wrong).

33 Replies to “I think it is just possible we are about to sign B….”

  1. Fantastic, either the author of the above related to the editor or this blog is desperate for columninsts. Article is so poor I thought its been written by a child. That Matuidi played in the lower league has no bearing of his skills. I am sure Grimandi saw something about him which he mentioned to Wenger who in turn concured. Please stop publishing utter nonsense.

  2. goonerbeall he is just giving the players background, which is informative and relevat

  3. Ref Matuidi – He is French even though his parents are Angolan, as he was born in France. Clichy and Coquelin both came from lower league clubs in France and their quality is evident. I also suspect Blaise is coming to Arsenal and in a way having played in teams which have been fighting for survival might actually bring a new dimension to our game as most of our players are used to success rather than having to dig in and fight for scraps.

  4. Well, having only seen the lad on YouTube-ery things, all I can say is LadyArse wants him simply because she’s well chuffed at the possibility of calling him “Tooti Fruiti Matuidi”. Small pleasures, my friends. Small pleasures.

    If we do sign Matuidi, it either means he’ll be slotted ahead of everyone else currently on the squad a DM (and Arsene has given up on one of the current squad)…or we’re bringing in TWO DM’s with the other being someone on the order of Lorik Cana to hold the fort for 2 years or so until Arsene decides who the real DM talent is among the younger players. Rated or not, I find it somewhat hard to believe Matuidi is going to supplant Song or Denlison right away, thus my suspicion that he might not be the only one brought in.

  5. ok, have we really looked at last season’s dm position? song had a good season(my point of view) this season i feel his game will get better i can feel it. Buy matuidi mr wenger let see how get to start.

  6. TheSKAGooner, or he could be coming in to create more competition and cover for that spot in the team. He would have until Jan to get up to speed with the PL before Alex Song goes off to the ACN.

  7. Ah, the old self-deprecating post-modernist irony on a sunday morning; fails every time.

    Sorry Goonerbeall, don’t think I made myself very clear, and the fact that I have been clearer in past posts doesn’t excuse it.

    Point is that I have oft cited the fact that we snatched Clichy out of the depths of French football (his club went bust I seem to recall, and his parents were very reluctant for him to move to England) as one of our triumphs. Likewise I’ve said that Gimandi would make a brilliant head of scouting, although it seems he is happy covering France. If he rates a player, the player deserves rating.

    So I wasn’t meaning to say there is anything wrong with this possible transfer – indeed I think the opposite. really all I was trying to do was to say, there’s little comment on this player going on at the moment, but one or two people are whispering in my ear that this transfer is about to happen.

    To me, to have another young defensive midfielder is just right for us. That way we have a backup for Song, who is also free to move into central defence, we have another left footer, and we have more flexibility.

    That latter is very important, I believe, because of the need to play one way in Europe, another way against the “park the team bus in front of goal” clubs like Bolton and Blackburn, and a third way to play Manchester IOU and the other big teams.

    Sorry the slightly obscure way of saying this (or in fact not saying it) didn’t make things clear – but then my opinion isn’t what matters anyway. The most important bit is that there is a chance that the second purchase might be on the way.


  8. Is this guy quick and mobile? He’s rough and tough judging by his discplinary record, but can he get to the challenges quickly?
    Song is a good DM, but he can’t replicate consistent performances every week and by the 5 round he’ll be burned out. If this matuidi can do that, i think we shoudl snap him up and, like we did with flamini, turn him into a solid DM.

  9. @ don’t believe the hype –

    Yes, that certainly could be the case as well. I’m not arguing against Matuidi at all, and I hope I haven’t left that impression. As Tony has noted, Matuidi could well be the next Gael Clichy, only at DM. I’d be thrilled to pieces at that prospect.

    Here’s the thing though…if we bring in Matuidi *only* to add to the competitive mix at DM, does that really solve our DM issue? Yes, we’ll need some extra coverage when the ACN comes around, and Matuidi would have the first part of the season to ramp up to playing full time when Song is away. But what of Denilson? AW rates him VERY highly, and it’s hard to imagine his being relegated to a bench role unless we’re going to just rotate all 3 at DM. Perhaps it’ll be a formational thing with one or the other being preferred depending on 4-4-2 or 4-3-3/4-5-1. That situation still puts quite a bit of pressure on Cesc to constantly adapt to a new DM depending on what our formation is. It doesn’t solve the “permanent partner for Cesc” issue that plagues our midfield.

    Again, Matuidi could well be the answer. We’ll have to wait and see. But I don’t think buying him is something AW would do just to add to the internal competitive mix right now. It would be another experiment that might/might not pay off and after last season I think Arsene has put away the chemistry set for awhile. If we had an established DM already, I could see the benefit of adding to the internal competition amongst the youngsters. But making that competition the “solution” for our DM needs at the moment seems a bit of a risk.

  10. Ref Matuidi, clearly you can write a piece or two. It ticks me off how people can demean and desecrate writers such as yourself- keep up the good work – enjoyable read.
    An that note I won’t comment on Gunnerbeall’s nonsense

  11. Ref Matuidi

    It’s frustrating enough that we couldn’t sign melo. To make things worse, it looks like we are signing this young one who’s much unproven. I was so sure that we would get cana. His tackles just terrorizes the other teams and that’s what we need. But, we won’t get him. Why don’t we just sell all the experienced players and sign all young talented players???

  12. Given a choice of the tabloid media and Tony, it is no contest. If a bird or two has been singing in Tony’s ear and he chooses to share it publicly then it is worth listening. Now you have been properly warned, it is only a bird and the fat lady has even begun to warm-up.
    Interesting, very interesting.

  13. Despite his young age, Matuidi has a lot of experience, as he has been a first team player for nearly four years now.
    Matuidi is more like Essien and as such prove provide a good defensive midfield player but who can also go forward. Song is a good screener with a decent pass, but does not carry the ball forward. Denilson is a intercepter, but again rarely carry the ball forward.
    Arsene Wenger had already stated that the shape of the team will be different depending on the opposition.
    Against team parking the bus Arsenal may well play in a more 4-1-3-2, with the full-backs pushing higher up changing it in a 3-5-2 when in possession.
    That would resolve the issue of how to accomodate all the different offensive midfield players (Arshavin, Wallcott, Nasri, Rosicky, Barazite, Wilshere, Traore, …) without losing a striker.

  14. Valentin – I hope you don’t find this argumentative but I think you, like many, have been a little unfair to Denilson. At the beginning of last season he was going forward a lot from his midfield position. Most of his 7 assists and 3 goals scored were early in the campaign but when we were leaking goals, the manager decided to be more conservative in the midfield and it Denilson was forced to sacrifice his offensive game and become more defensive. IMO, all things considered (eventually blowing away the threat of Villa, semi-finals in both FA cup and Champs League) he did a damn good job for someone so young. I will confidently predict that any new signing will in no way diminish the importance of Denilson to Arsenal FC. This youngster reminds me in many ways of Iniesta, who at 21 broke into the Barca 1st team as a holding midfielder playing behind the likes of Ronaldhino. Look at where he has progressed four years hence. I predict a similar trajectory for Denilson.

  15. TheSKAGooner
    Like you, I cannot see clearly how Matuidi will fit in. Yes, he can cover for Song during the ACN but then, where does Diaby fit in? Remember when Sagna was bought in – no one could figure out why we needed another Rightback. There might be a few transfers out before the summer is over or Lord Wenger might have a plan to slot Vermaelen into DM and Matuidi as Fullback

    Ok. I am exaggerating but if it works out right, you have heard it from me first!

    Good article Tony, If Grimandi has recommended him, he must be worth it.

  16. shotta-gunna
    I am an admirer of Denilson and I believe the reason why he gets such a lot of adverse comments from fans is that a)he has been thrown into the deep end and went through a learning curve initially b) he has been asked to curb his attacking instincts for the good of the team and c) in the EPL, we equate bone crushing tackles and yellow cards as a requisite for a good DM. Denilson plays more subtly and his increasing positional awareness negates the need for such aggressive tackling in the first place. He will do good that lad.

  17. Dakota – “Denilson plays more subtly and his increasing positional awareness negates the need for such aggressive tackling in the first place. He will do good that lad.”
    Precisely – I was thinking along those lines after I posted. I read with amusement numerous well-meaning posters who lust longingly for the physicality of a Patrick Viera type midfielder. IMO, that type of midfielder is a dinosaur in modern football. Today throwing yourself into tackles, especially from behind and even sideways, is bound to not only be penalized by the ref but earn the tackler an automatic yellow card. Used to be only in Europe but ever increasingly so in England. Additionally most teams now have free kick specialists who are champing at the bit to belt these modern swerving balls goalward from up to 30 yards. The Denilsons of this world, who are good at anticipating the pass, keeping the runners in front of them and taking the ball with precise controlled tackling are the midfielders of the future. Yes Dakota, we have a good one on our hands, wrapped under a long term contract as well. The future is bright.

  18. You miss the point Shotta. This kid can’t be any good or Madrid would have signed him for £50 Million. Haven’t you see the going rate for ‘good’ players this month? Keep up!

  19. Consols – LOL. Like Iniesta, (almost) no amount of money can prise Denilson away from Arsenal. Most top clubs make silly decisions; they only buy when a player is already at the top of his trade and hence must pay top dollar. The smart clubs, 1st Barca, and now Arsenal, are always nurturing and building these young geniuses like Denilson and Iniesta, locking them down on long-term contracts which makes it almost impossible to lose them. BTW; that is why Barca is so bitter about losing Cesc so cheaply. Another master stroke by AW.

  20. Evening all,
    It will come as no surprise to many that I am firmly in the camp which is salivating at the prospect of Denilson in an Arsenal shirt for many years to come. The guy is so cool for one so young; comes back from disappointing performances with no apparent lack of confidence, always gives his team mates an out ball and is always willing to take the ball and try to do something with it. Imagine when he’s been around a little longer if he’s already reading the game so well, he will be a legend.
    If Tony’s bush telegraph is working then this young lad can come to Arsenal and we should welcome him with open arms – if Giles thinks he’s good that’s plenty good enough for me. However as at any of Europe’s great clubs he has some serious talent in front of him.

  21. Ref Matuidi

    Gentlemen this is a wonderful discussion. I too rate Denilson and Song very highly. We must understand that both of these young guys are actually 20 years old and getting better. For those that long for the return of Flamini you must try your best and remember if Flamini was this good at 20 as these two young men (Song and Denilson). We must be patient and understand that we can’t compete financially with the Man U’s and Real Madrid, we must build our team on our youth policy and understand that in doing so we are creating loyal and loving Arsenal Players.

    How many of you think Karen Gibbs or Gael Cichy will ever leave Arsenal because of Money? In five years our team will be built on majority of our player from our youth rank just like the Barcelona team, that have breed their players in the Catalina way of football. No amount of money will be able to take them away from us.

  22. shotta-gunna – I am not deriding Denilson. He is very good at what he does.
    The problem is that Denilson is more of a passer and we have enough of these (Cesc, Nasri, …). In some game he was also able to be on the receiving end of a 1-2 and scored, however I am talking in game when the opposing team litterally park the bus.
    Think Garry Megson’s Bolton with 10 men behind the ball.
    In that case, we need a defensive midfield player who can intercept and pass the ball, but also somebody who will also run forward with the ball. By running with it and offering a threat at shooting, you force the opposition to attack him and therefore freeing somebody.
    That is why in those tight game, Toure was often galloping forward with the ball. By threatening to shoot, the opposition was moving toward him and freeing space behind. Matuidi can do that directly from the midfield rather than rely on one of our central defender to do it. Song does that for Cameroon, but never for Arsenal. Often he will stop like if he suddenly remember he has to be more defensive and that often lose the momentum.
    That is the kind of threat that Michael Essien offer to Chelsea and that we have been lacking since Viera left. Remember the number of goals he scored by shooting from outside the penalty box.
    Flamini had some of that threat, Newcastle game spring to mind. He was also the provider for a lot of crosses to Adebayor after he intercepted the ball and run forward. I believe that Matuidi has less running but more power.

    Different players provide different solutions to different problems.
    In game that Arsenal would not dominate, Denilson may be a better choice. I am just talking about providing a different alternative to what we currently have.

  23. No probs Valentin. I was simply trying to head-off the anti-Denilson nuts who simply cannot comprehend how amazingly versatile he is for his age and how important he is for our present and future.

    BTW: I also love Essien because he is a unique physical specimen as a footballer. (But at 24 million he was simply beyond our valuation of the worth of any player especially a DM.) Note that we play a different system from Chelsea who in my opinion are essentially a counter-attacking team. On the break, they ruthlessly exploit any one-one mismatch on the field and Essien is key to this tactic as very few teams can negate his strengths.

  24. Ref Matuidi

    I don’t know what to believe about most of the players that we’re linked with but from what i’ve been reading he looks like he’ll be an arsenal player in a couple days. I enjoy your articles, especially the ones demeaning spurs and harry rednapp. Keep up the good work.

  25. Ref Blaise Matuidi

    Matuidi is talented for sure, but we already have plenty of DMs in Denilson, Song, Diaby, and even Toure can fill in there if there’s a major injury crisis. I think the remaining money that Wenger has could be used better in getting a specialist FK taker. We didn’t score a single goal from Free kicks last season, and many teams used this weakness to their advantage by fouling us to break our flow. Or Van Persie really needs to get his free kicks straight, otherwise teams like Bolton, Stoke and Blackburn will continue to exploit this weakness.

  26. Been hearing a lot about Blaise Matuidi myself & I think it’s a huge possibility that he will be an Arsenal player. Hopefully it’ll be soon, before the pre-season friendlies start.

  27. Ref Matuidi,

    I also think the fans should be Patient with Denilson. But even though I think Tony’s right with the signing of Blaise Matuidi, i dont necessarily agree with this transfer, I was hoping to get a much older player than this guy. i think that some young players are going to be put off with this signing and leave. But with an older player that can give us a couple of seasons or even just one. That would give our players time to develope, And be come the great players they Potentially are.

    I also was hoping the player would be a british also. just thought id throw that in there.


  29. Ref Matuidi,

    I feel that we are doing just fine with the midfield department at the moment and do not need further reinforcements. Look at the number of midfielders we have who could play as DM and partner Fabregas, Song, Denilson, Diaby, Coquelin, Fran Merida, Ramsey, Rosicky. I rather we take what we have, let Wenger groom the young ones to fulfill the potential we so know they have. I would hate to see talented players leave for other clubs before they even have chance to shine for Arsenal.

  30. I have Known for quite a while that Arsene, on the recommendations of Grimandi, checked out Matuidi. He spoke with St Etiene, and had a secret meeting with Matuidi after the youngster almost pleaded with Wenger to come get him. I also know for a fact that the youngster refuse to attend meetings with the representatives of two other clubs. He only wants to come to Arsenal and SE cannot afford to keep him as they want to balance their books. That’s why SE’s asking price came down dramatically.

    He has experience for a young man. By October 2008, he had played over 100 games for SE in the DM position; and by now he obviously has played a lot more. I am even surprised that we haven’t got him already.

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