Arsene Wenger has long been regarded as a huge fan of 29-year-old French midfielder Yohan Cabaye. The Arsenal manager reportedly made several efforts to sign his compatriot while the player was still at Newcastle. Cabaye would have been the preferred option in the withdrawn midfield role that Santi Cazorla now excels in for the Gunners , had things panned out a bit differently.
However , Paris Saint-Germain swooped in and wooed away the midfielder from St James’ Park , partly due to their financial clout and partly because of Cabaye’s lure of playing for his homeland’s best club. It all started very well for the player at the Parc De Princes, with his strong performances in his first six months at the club justifying the £19 million PSG paid Newcastle for his services.
However, it all started to go downhill for the midfielder last season , where his poor performances coupled with the continued excellence of the midfield axis of Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verrati , relegated him to a bit part role at the club. Relegated to the bench within a year of his arrival, the Parisian dream had soon turned into a nightmare for Cabaye.
The 29-year-old was widely tipped to leave the French Champions this summer and rejoin a club in the Premier League. Several top clubs including Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool were touted as possible destinations. It therefore came as a surprise to many when it was revealed earlier today that Cabaye had agreed a deal to join Crystal Palace (yeah, you heard it right, Crystal Palace !).
The news is a major blow especially for us Gooners who were hoping that Wenger could weave his magic at the second time of asking and lure the midfielder to the Emirates. Wishing for Cabaye is not an indictment of the Gunners’ current midfield set up, which surely remains one of the best in Europe, let alone in the Premier League. It is an acceptance that players like Cabaye are really hard to find. The French International is as versatile as they come. Strong, technically adept, hard in the tackle , pacy on the wall, possessor of great creativity and vision , the former Toon favorite ticks all the boxes you would want in a player who can play all across the midfield.
It is precisely this versatility that would have made him the perfect signing for Wenger. With previous experience of having played in the defensive midfield role at Newcastle, Cabaye would most definitely have been an upgrade on Francis Coquelin , and could have also acted as a reference point for the youngster. He could also have been a viable cover / competition for Santi Cazorla in the deep lying playmaker role. He could have also been utilized a bit further forward , with his penchant for scoring goals highlighted by his record of 17 goals in 79 appearances for the Magpies.
At the reported £12.8 million that Palace paid PSG for his services , Cabaye would have been a steal for the Gunners. What’s transpired , however , has now left Arsene Wenger casting his net elsewhere in pursuit of players who could collectively bolster his midfield in a way that Cabaye could have done single-handedly