Friday, June 14, 2024

Merida: I should have been more patient at Arsenal

In a brilliant interview with Eurosport journalist Andy Mitten, former Gunner Fran Merida says he was too hasty in leaving Arsenal for Atletico Madrid, even if he did enjoy some success with the Spanish club.

The midfielder joined Arsenal as a 15 year old in much the same manner as Cesc Fabregas, but when competition increased at the club, he decided to move to La Liga, despite Arsene Wenger saying he wanted him to stay at the club.

“I had some opportunities but the competition was high. Arsenal bought Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere into the first-team. Nasri, Fabregas, Rosicky and Denilson were also in my position. It was difficult for me.”

He spoke about he was on the cusp of leaving a season previously, but the manager changed his mind.

“Levante wanted me for one season,” he said, “and I was going to sign for them. I actually packed my clothes and went with Arsenal to play against Valencia.

“I was going to stay in the city and join Levante when Wenger called me and said: ‘Please stay, you will get more chances and if you do well you can break into the first-team’. He changed my mind, I went back to London.

“The club told me I was going to be part of the first-team squad, and I was delighted. I changed for the first-team dressing room. I played a few games in the Premier League and the League Cup. I was getting close.

“But at the end of the season I had an offer from Atletico Madrid. Even though I’m from Barcelona, I actually supported Atletico Madrid as a kid because I wanted to be different. That double winning team in 1996 was another reason. I thought hard about the offer. They offered me a four-year contract and I still felt that I wasn’t going to play every week at Arsenal.

“I said goodbye. “It was a mistake, I wasn’t patient. I realise that now, but I’ve never been a patient person.”

The trajectory of his career is a perfect illustration of just how things can change for a player so quickly. From regular at Atletico Madrid, he fell down the ladder very quickly.

You can find out the details of that, and what he’s doing now, by reading the entire piece right here.

And let’s enjoy his finest moment in an Arsenal shirt, that cracking Carling Cup goal against Liverpool:

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Add him to the list, if there’s room left.


Wenger likes a call.

the only sam is nelson

this sort of interview should be played to any talented youngster thinking that the grass is greener away from the Arsenal….


Yes, we could have played him on the right.


Very humbling article.


Shoulda woulda coulda but it’s refreshing to read that honesty in retrospective pieces like this.

What a goal, it’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of them.

Double, double, double....

Oh how I remember that goal against Liverpool, sent the stadium crazy!


Senderos and Silvestre celebrating there, how did we win this match? Bendtner scored 2nd goal, lmao!


Senderos was centre back during the run to the champions league final- where Arsenal set a record for not conceding.

Kerea Gilbert there too- the English eboue

Why were the youngsters do good then? I loved those calling cup teams (even if Bentley, vela, bendtner and Ramsey are the only guys to make it at top level)


Can’t blame him really he was with us at a time when some of our first team players thought they were too good for us.


Spot on.


I just think he’s not a player at all for Arsenal. Last year he played for my team here in Brazil, and he couldn’t play good even here where the League is not that good


I watched him playing for Hercules of Alicante a couple of seasons ago, he didn’t look interested.


Feels weird, I completely forgot about his existence till the other article yesterday on Wenger’s players and now this. Amazingly candid and humble interview, can’t wait for TGSEL to continue this series.


you can fit hleb right in there


poor hleb. i honestly feel bad for him, he was such a likeable guy and really talented. on the other hand he could’ve shown more loyalty. same thing with merida. Arsenal isn’t the same as other clubs.

Rip Van's Winkel

Is that a pre-pubescent Coq on the bench, getting excited and standing up?


Anyone notice Le Coq on the bench there. Such different trajectories!

Gutbukket Deffrolla

…and such a fine difference between ending up one the one or the other trajectory.


Excellent article. Thanks for highlighting. Seems a decent guy. Hope he gets back up to la Liga level.

Eduardo Stark

Oh the early Emirates day… The youngs were playing with hearts, attacking naively, put their dreams on their feet… The time when I was hoping most of them would grow and become great player for next few years for us (so it ought to be present time). Only to see them left one by one, which was heartbreaking.
I imagine if Merida was patient for his chance, we might be at Ramsey stature by now, with us. But who knows about fate.

Passion of the Coq

The things he could have learned from Arteta… Quite insightful on how players are tossed around like pawns, lvg style, by other clubs. We are truly a family team. Today is the anniversary of that 3-5 beating we handed that girl, Chelsea, at that fallen bridge. Best birthday gift I ever had.


Happy Birthday!!


But then you have to ask the question, if he can’t keep a regular place in Athletico Madrid’s team would he have done so at Arsenal?


What a great interview with a player that I adored on Football Manager. He always made it into my midfield with Wilshere and Ramsey after a few seasons 😉

Seems to be content where he is, I hope he get break into the top divisions again, there’s just something I enjoy about technically gifted midfielders…


the good cesc celebrated that goal in the stands…….. oh that thin line between good and cuntevil

Me So Hornsey

To be fair to him, an offer of a 4 year contract from your boyhood supporting club isn’t an easy one to turn down when you’ve got young players like Nasri, Cesc & Denilson ahead of you.


If I remember correctly, he signed a deal with Atleti even before the season ended….That summer, was when Cesc and Nasri left and Denilson was sent on loan to Sao Paolo. What he should have realized was that arsenal did have a big interest in seeing him develop and when you consider the fact that he and Ramsey were contemporaries and looking at what Ozyakup (who was actually behind him) has now done, you can’t help but wonder what might have happened.


that very next season he couldve been in our starting XI… i remember that too, what a mistake.


But we could buy him back when his contract is out. He may still be on Wenger’s raidar….. what a genuine guy, and hes got the talent…. good luck to him.

Me So Hornsey

Now I’ve actually read the interview in full, which is superb reading btw, I’m not sure it was actual overconfidence that was his downfall at all, as it was with Bentner or Bentley. Reading his story, it’s quite obvious he was a very sensitive young player, mentioning the media reaction numerous times he doesn’t appear to have that thick skin a top level player needs. “Low confidence made me a worse player”, he says on his downward spiral and basically, that was his downfall. He was the opposite of cocky, a possible brittle self-belief maybe. It shows that a young… Read more »


Patience is a virtue and le coq is testament to that


Has anyone who left managed more than 2 successful seasons at the other clubs? Fabregas is the only one who keeps standards high. RvP and Henry had one good season, Nasri is not a starter now…


Even fabregas went down a level or 2 imo


he was never the same


Only Ashley Cole i guess


lesson learned, keep away from the little boy


Merida seems like a down to earth man. Good on him for not giving up.


I always thought he would be a star. His potential was huge, was so disappointed when he left. It’s even more disappointing that his career hasn’t gone the way that I’m sure a lot of people thought it would.

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