With news breaking today that Minnesota United is still
inexplicably linked with former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini after a lightly-sourced tweet emerged yesterday that yes, this might happen, it’s perhaps time to treat this rumor somewhat seriously as the club is making moves to strengthen its roster for the stretch run to come.
So what’s Flamini’s background and what could he add to this club now, at age 33?
As many know, Mathieu Flamini is most famous for his two stints with Arsenal in which he amassed 252 appearances, 13 goals and 10 assists. He got his start at Marseille and also featured for AC Milan and a short stint at Crystal Palace last season which only saw him take the field 13 times.
A no-nonsense midfield bulldog, Flamini has generally been deployed as a classic defensive midfielder, though his work rate has seen him play further up in the midfield as well as fullback from time to time.
As mentioned, lower-tier Premier League club Crystal Palace took a chance on him last season after he was deemed expendable by Arsenal but he couldn’t find room in Palace’s lineup despite his experience and leadership, experience and leadership that would likely be the primary reason Minnesota United would come calling despite some clear red flags to avoid.
It’s not that Flamini couldn’t add anything helpful, it’s that what he’d subtract would far outweigh the positives. Yes, he’s seen it all and yes, his veteran knowledge of the game would certainly provide some value to the young guys. In a league a bit less refined and a bit more rough and tumble than the Premier League, perhaps he’d find his niche in MLS and would be a passable stopgap for a year or two while this club stabilizes and becomes a more consistent league member.
He’s heavily involved as a partner for GFBiochemicals, a producer of levulinic acid and derivatives, so perhaps his salary wouldn’t be anything exorbitant relative to the impact he’d provide. He could certainly be no worse than some of the Scandinavian imports this season.
Or, we could look at his track record from the past handful of years and see that he’s an aging midfielder whose physical skills simply can’t keep up with players far younger than him. A player reliant on bone-crunching tackles rather than positional intelligence. A player more likely to commit homicide on the pitch rather than a controlled, sensible game from a position which is second to none in importance in the modern game. A player that even a bottom third Premier League side deemed surplus to requirements.
This club could certainly do worse than Mathieu Flamini and perhaps this rumor will come to nothing but if this club is seriously looking to him as any kind of midfield general, even with all his experience and midfield nous then it’s more than fair game to question just how good their scouting eye and capability for signing impact players really are.
Flamini isn’t a sign of crisis, but he’s certainly someone that Minnesota United shouldn’t settle for either.