The most forgotten man at Arsenal could prove surprisingly useful in the short-term, but shouldn’t be at the club beyond this season.
I had to applaud Mathieu Debuchy in the summer transfer window.
Here was a player who had no presence in the first team, never mind a future, up for sale for any price. Yet, come 23:01 on deadline day, he was still an Arsenal player.
If only our better players were as immovable as he is.
Debuchy is a bit like a cobweb hanging off a wall you intend to clean up but just forget about. Rather than go away on its own, it just hangs there gathering dust. There have been few Arsenal players in recent times who have managed a more forgettable four years at the club.
He was a £12m signing from Newcastle in 2014, but we’ve only gotten 26 appearances out of him. Even someone like Yaya Sanogo managed to register on the Arsenal fans’ consciousness more, if only because he ascended to meme status.
In a way, that makes it hard to judge how good Debuchy actually is.
He simply hasn’t had the chance to prove if he’s good or bad. There have been no good or bad moments in his Arsenal career. Injuries have robbed him of the opportunity to have a career at the very top level of football with a big club.
However, things are looking a little brighter for him in the immediate short-term.
He appears to be undergoing a Monreal-like transition from full back to wide centre back in our back three. Many brows were raised when he was named on the team sheet as a right sided centre back against Red Star Belgrade last month, but he performed admirably well.
Then he played 120 minutes against Norwich and did just as well. Now he has Arsene Wenger talking him up as a genuine option in defence for the Premier League after another start against Red Star on Thursday.
It just happens that Arsenal could do with some extra cover in defence.
Calum Chambers has struggled for fitness this season, while you feel that Laurent Koscielny could breakdown at any moment. Per Mertesacker is already putting in more work than he, and everyone else, anticipated thanks to Shkodran Mustafi’s injury. With mid-week games coming from all angles, it’s useful to have another defender – an actual defender, and not a temporary one like Mohamed Elneny – come in for a few games, especially if it’s against weaker opposition.
Beyond this season, though, there should be no doubts about Debuchy’s future. Next summer is when Arsenal must properly address their defence.
Debuchy will be 33 by then and will surely be looking to be a regular in someone else’s defence. He’s a player in clear need of game time if he wants to extend his career any further, and short of a miraculous turnaround in fortune, he’s not getting that at Arsenal.
His spot in the squad, and the wages we’re paying him, would be better off with a younger defender with actual long-term prospects at the club.
Arsene Wenger will make use of him while he can, but the hope has to be that his performances in the middle of the defence catch the eye of other clubs and persuade them to buy him.
Frustratingly, his contract doesn’t expire until 2019, and Arsenal aren’t the type to terminate deals early.
Every sign suggests we should get rid, but I wouldn’t be shocked if no buyer came in, and he ended up staying into his final year.
In which case, you’d have to hope he’s as tough to beat in defence as he is to get rid of.