Winner of La Liga with Barcelona and holder of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, Alex Song still plays in the Champions League, but in Africa with Arta Solar.
The midfielder sparked great interest in November 2020 when he signed for the ambitious Djibouti club, which also has several other players who cut their teeth in Europe, including Carlos Kameni, Diafra Sakho, Dany Nounkeu and Alain Traore.
However, this is not a career-ending decision intended solely to swell his bank balance before retirement. At 34, Song is a key player for the Djibouti defending champions.
Not to miss
Indeed, he is the captain of Arta Solar and participated in the championship at the end of December 2021. He divides his time between his club in East Africa and his family home in the West.
He has several investments in his native Cameroon, including a construction company in his hometown of Douala, a fashion company named Systeme Tchakap, and a connection to a school in Yaoundé.
Song nevertheless found time to play in the CAF Champions League against Kenya’s Tusker in September as Arta Solar lost in the first round.
After a 1-1 first-leg draw, they were beaten 3-0 away and were knocked out in the first qualifying round.
It was Arta Solar’s first game in the Champions League, after the star-studded and expensively assembled team won the Djibouti Premier League for the first time in 2020-21.
Song joined « the African PSG »
The club is supported by Tommy Tayoro Nickoss, an entrepreneur in his forties, who has the ambition to make Arta Solar the « PSG of African football ».
Son-in-law of the Djiboutian president, he built his fortune in the aeronautical industry in Ivory Coast and has since embarked on renewable energies – hence the presence of « Solar » in the name of the club.
His wealth and ambition lured Song to Djibouti, the final chapter of a career that has been run entirely at midfield pace – for better and for worse.
After starting out at French club Bastia, Song established himself in the first team aged 16 before being sold to Arsenal for £1million ($1.4m) in the summer of 2006.
After a few seasons as a substitute and a loan spell at Charlton, he enjoyed a successful campaign aged 21 in 2008-09, playing 48 games in all competitions for Wenger’s side.
Song usually played as a defensive midfielder, sometimes as a centre-back, and although he was best known as a fearsome ball-boy, he was also capable of breaking lines with the pass.
He became particularly important to Arsenal in 2011, following the sale of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, with Wenger handing Song more creative responsibilities.
He was rewarded for his confidence, as the Cameroonian provided 11 assists in the Premier League, with the Gunners finishing in third place.
Song went to Barca for the money
Song also had a knack for being behind crucial goals at crucial times, such as Robin van Persie’s goals against Everton and Liverpool in the league, and Thierry Henry’s on his emotional debut for the club against Leeds. in the FA Cup.
In the summer of 2012, at the age of 24, it looked like Song was perfectly set to become an Arsenal club legend – until he agreed to follow in Fabregas’ footsteps by signing up for 15 million pounds ($20.6 million) to FC Barcelona.
Not only was Song competing with his former teammate for a place in midfield, but there was also Sergio Busquets, an indisputable starter, which meant he usually played in defense or not at all.
Yet Song played 65 games in two years in Spain, and also won La Liga in 2013. But he only provided two assists.
Ultimately, football was far from Song’s mind as he admitted in a 2021 interview that his move to Barcelona was driven by money rather than minutes.
In an Instagram chat with Toronto Raptors basketball star Pascal Siakam, he said: « Most footballers live beyond their means. »
« I was at Arsenal for eight years, but I only started to earn a good living in the last four years. That’s because my salary has increased a lot, but also because I realized that I wasted a lot of money. »
« During my whole career at Arsenal, I couldn’t even save 100,000 pounds ($140,000), when people thought I had to be a millionaire. »
« When Barcelona offered me a contract and I saw how much I would earn, I didn’t think twice. I felt that my wife and children should have a comfortable life once my career was over. . »
« I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me that I wouldn’t get the chance to play many games, but I didn’t care – I knew that now I would become a millionaire. «
Song fell out of favor at Camp Nou and, after two inconsistent campaigns on loan at West Ham, he was released to join Russian club Rubin Kazan, where he fared no better.
He also had a tumultuous relationship with the Cameroon national team, having been sent off for punching Mario Mandzukic in a 4-0 group stage loss to Croatia at the World Cup. 2014 in Brazil.
Song then left the Indomitable Lions in early 2015 after being dropped from selection for that year’s Africa Cup of Nations, stopping at 50 caps with Cameroon.
In August 2018, he joined Swiss club Sion, but at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 he was one of nine players dismissed for refusing a pay cut.
After nine months of absence, Arta Solar visits him.
Bringing a bit of old European glamor to Djibouti’s football landscape, Song immediately brought a title to Arta Solar, who beat second-placed AS Port 4-2 to secure the 2021 league title. with two games to go.
They are currently at the top of the table again this year, which means that a further participation in the CAF Champions League is in sight.
It seems that there are still a few chapters to be written in the exciting story of Alex Song’s career.