Arsene Wenger has praised Mathieu Flamini for what he’s brought to the side since his arrival on a free this summer.
The former AC Milan man had offers from a number of clubs but delayed making a decision to prove to Wenger he was worth another chance at Arsenal, and the manager’s faith in him has been rewarded with a series of outstanding defensive performances.
Not only that, after 5 years in Italy, he’s mastered the dark arts, the sneaky foul, the not so sneaky foul, growing in a role as midfield destructor.
“Mathieu Flamini has given us a balance between attacking and defending,” said Wenger. “He is someone who accepts the ‘dark’ role in the team.
“Before, in big games, we looked frail defensively sometimes and he gives us more in that sense. I don’t know if he will turn out to be one of the most important signings I have ever made. But I think it was ‘an’ important signing.”
Flamini himself told the Observer he viewed Roy Keane as an idol and that his ‘bossy’ nature on the pitch stems from a desire to both win games and help his teammates.
“Defensive work is maybe a bit more difficult to see than when you score or make an assist,” he said. “But it’s very important as part of the balance of the team. I am a defensive midfielder, trying to find the best balance in the team between the defence and attack.
Winning games is a quality of effort. It’s teamwork. It is inside of me. I am not trying to be bossy, just to be myself, and of course to help my partners on the pitch.
“When you start helping each other, fighting for each other, this helps you to win games.”