Player analysis: What are Arsenal fans getting in the return of Mathieu Flamini?

The defensive midfielder has headed back to the Emirates Stadium on a free transfer, but will he provide something different than what he gave the Gunners earlier in his career?

Mathieu Flamini re-joined Arsenal yesterday on a three-year deal after he was released by Milan at the end of last season, but what will the midfielder offer the Gunners in his second spell at the Emirates?

Flamini angered Arsenal supporters when he refused to sign a new contract with the club as his current deal expired in 2008, having joined the north Londoners in 2004. Alongside Cesc Fabregas, who arrived at the club a year early, Arsene Wenger had appeared to have secured an exciting, young duo that would form the Gunners midfield for years to come.

But by this time, Flamini had already upset his former club Marseille, having agreed to sign a long-term senior contract, only to go against his word and sign a deal with the then-Premier League champions instead.

Marseille manager Jose Anigo felt betrayed by Flamini, and said at the time: "This is a beautiful treason. He used me."

Flamini struggled early on in his career, although both he and Fabregas started to feature in Arsenal’s first-team more and more as their development continued. Having made 32 appearances in his debut season at Highbury, he went on to become a permanent figure in the Arsenal midfield the following season – although his lack of goals saw him drop back as the Gunners’ defensive midfielder to allow Fabregas to develop his attacking threat we see today.

Having scored his first goal against Everton in the 7-0 victory in May 2005, Flamini became the final Arsenal player to score at Highbury in their traditional red and white home kit.

He showed his ability to cover at full-back following a series of injuries to Arsenal’s defence, and he proved more than capable to cover the left-back role despite being right-footed.

The Italian came off the bench in the 76th minute in Arsenal’s Champions League final against Barcelona as they looked to defend their 1-0 lead despite being down to 10-men, but late goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti put pay to the Gunners hopes of European glory.

Flamini started to become disillusioned with his role as a utility player, but the 2007-08 season saw a significant increase in his performances as both he and Fabregas became mainstays in the Arsenal first-team, taking over from Gilberto Silva and the injury-prone Abou Diaby.

However, his contract was now into its final year, and Gunners’ fans warmed to him as he became somewhat of a favourite in the Arsenal midfield – perhaps after he showed he could finally reach his potential that Wenger had spoken of.

Despite Arsenal’s attempts to commit Flamini to a new contract, he rejected their offers and left the club on a free transfer, eventually signing with Italian side AC Milan.

After his departure, he claimed to still be an Arsenal fan at heart and said: "Arsenal are in my heart and they will be in my heart for ever. I will always be an Arsenal fan and leaving was not easy."

His time with the Serie A giants was a disjointed one, struggling to appear in midfield in his first season as again he was used as a utility player, but he featured regularly as Milan regained the Serie A title. Having again regressed to a rotation role, he suffered a serious knee-injury that kept him out of the entire 2011-12 season.

The 29-year-old was released at the end of the season, but later agreed a one-year contract to remain with the club until his release earlier this season.

Having again departed on a free transfer – Flamini has never cost a penny when moving club throughout his career – he started training with Arsenal to maintain his fitness, and he appears to have impressed Wenger once again, as the Frenchman looks to strengthen his squad despite having yet to spend a penny in the transfer window.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Voices
voices
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad