The transfer window may now be closed, but free agents can still sign for clubs and that is exactly what has happened with two former Arsenal players.
The first, Mathieu Flamini, who underwent a medical at Palace on Wednesday according to Sky Sports.
Flamini, who is known to be close friends with several Arsenal players, including Mesut Ozil, will be happy to be back in London so he can stay close to his former teammates, but can the 32-year-old still be effective for Crystal Palace?
Flamini may have run down his contract at Arsenal and failed to earn at extension, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to offer. He is still a useful player at the least, with plenty of top level experience. His ability going forward and technical skill is, of course limited, but Crystal Palace have the likes of Yoann Cabaye to perform the more glamorous tasks – that would allow for Flamini to use his industry and experience to help protect Palace’s defence. That is of course his best attribute, providing a shield to the defence, and you would expect for Palace to be doing a fair bit of defending this season, so it’s a move that makes sense – especially when he cost the club no money. People must remember that Flamini will not need time to adapt either, not only is he heavily experienced in the Premier League, but he has lived in London for much of his playing career and by playing for Palace, he can remain close to his former Arsenal teammates, in particular, close friend Mathieu Flamini. I think alongside Cabaye, Alan Pardew could put out a very decent central midfield duo, capable of frustrating many team attacking midfielders.
The other former Gunner to make a return to English football is Niklas Bendtner. The Danish forward is back and will play in the Championship with Nottingham Forest. Interestingly, Arsenal will play Forest in the League Cup on the 20th of September.
Believe it or not, he’s only 28, so Bendtner should be entering the prime of his career – however he has endured a turbulent time since leaving Arsenal. His attitude has continued to hold him back and really, although he was never going to be a world beater, he hasn’t fulfilled the potential he showed at Arsenal as a kid. The move to Forest may be a bit of a reality check for him, and it could go one of two ways. He could continue to not really care, or, he could realise that he isn’t as good as he once thought and he needs to work hard to ensure that the best years of his career are not wasted. So far he has had a bit of an upside down career, starting with a top club in Arsenal and now, 10 years later, plying his trade in the Championship.
He has a lot of experience and when his head is in the right place, he can be a very good striker. I hope he sees sense, gets his head down and works hard, then maybe he will come a little bit closer to the striker he thought he was…