After enjoying a great season with Arsenal, Alex Song left London to join Barcelona, but as off yet the player is still trying to fit in at Camp Nou. New Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova paid £15 million to aquire the services of the defensive midfielder, in a move that surprise many of the clubs fans and many in the Premier League.
Where was Song going to fit in, with a midfield that already consists of Anders Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago, and one of the bests holding midfielders in world football, Sergio Busquets?
The answer is still to be found with the Cameroonian international unable to hold down a starting spot, and making many of his 17 appearances from the bench.
At Arsenal, Song was built into the main playmaker role, particularly last season, and contributed to many of the clubs goals, with his chipped passes to Robin Van Persie a feature of their play that year as he recorded 11 Premier League assists.
Song was also percieved to be a competent holding player, able to break up play and screen the Arsenal back four. In truth, this aspect of his play was probably over-exaggerated whilst at Arsenal as the midfielder’s main urges were to get forward and join attacks.
The Spanish club turned Javier Mascherano from a midfielder to a defender, and they may have saw Song as another perfect project, which would allow them to sign one player capable of many positions. But, as stated above, his defensive capacities are not as good as Mascherano, who is a shrewd tactical reader of the game, unlike Song.
In his debut, a 15 minute cameo against Real Madrid in the Spanish super cup, and although the game ended in defeat, Alex Song had a perfect pass completion percentage. This earned him a start in the next league game against Valencia, but after an indifferent performance, he was dropped to the bench for the next match.
After injuries to key defenders Gerard Pique, and Carlos Puyol, Alex Song was dropped into defence alongside Mascherano, where he failed to impress in the Champions league match against Spartak Moscow, as the side scraped past the Russians 3-2.
The 25 year old continued in defence until Puyol returned and found himself rooted to the bench as Busquets started the league matches, with Song given the cup games.
In a game away to Celtic in the Champions league, Song started just in front of the defence, but failed to keep track of Victor Wanyama, who stole the show as Barcelona suffered defeat for the first time 2-1. Surely vindicating the managers decision to start most important games with Busquets.
The ex-Arsenal man just looked out of place, not being able to keep up with the one touch quick passing of the other midfielders in the side, often trying to hold on to the ball for too long.
Song managed to net his first goal for the club two weeks later in a 3-1 win over Zaragoza, but for the important matches away to Levante, and Atletico Madrid, he found himself again rooted to the bench.
It was clear to the fans of the club that he was not yet ready for the first team of the club, and would need to improve before he could be considered for a starting spot. The level of technical ability required to make it at Barca is far superior of that required at other clubs and thus it will take time for Song to adapt.
A recent poll done by Spanish paper Marca named Song as the second worse signing of the season, behind Luka Modric, as the pressure seems to mount on the Cameroonian.
At Arsenal the players attitude came into question; and a recent rumour about a bust up with Tito Vilanova has thrown this into the limelight once again.
Another rumour suggests Barcelona are ready to sell the player in the summer with PSG interested in signing Song, who himself would be happy to move to the Parisians.
Alex Song left first team football with Arsenal to try and break into the first team of Barcelona, but after a few months it is becoming apparent his stay at Camp Nou may be coming to an end.
However ex team mate Cesc Fabregas also too time to settle in Barcelona, and its unfair to judge the player in his first season, but a vast improvement is needed.