Alex Song is reportedly the subject of attention from several clubs this summer as the Barcelona misfit continues to be linked with a permanent return to the Premier League.
Song, who impressed last season on loan at West Ham United, is being monitored by champions Chelsea and their predecessors Manchester City, according to Sky Sports.
But why are England’s top sides queuing up for a midfielder for whom the Hammers were the biggest takers last summer?
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The 27-year-old’s status as a home-grown player likely appeals strongly to both the dark and light Blues as they desperately try to get their squads in shape to fall within league regulations.
The Football Association’s current rules state that each Premier League team must have a minimum of eight home-grown players in the 25-man squads that they submit at the start of the season.
Chelsea currently only have three above the age of 21 – John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas. Manchester City have the same – Joe Hart, Gael Clichy and Richard Wright – following the departures of Frank Lampard, James Milner, Dedryck Boyata, John Guidetti and Scott Sinclair this summer.
And those rules are going to get even tougher for clubs who deal in overseas markets over the coming years, with the required number of home-grown players increasing from eight to 12 by 2020.
But the inflated valuations of English talent, described as “a joke” on Twitter this week by former England captain Rio Ferdinand, means that quality home-grown players at good-value prices are hard to come by.
Song then is a rare commodity; an experienced international who qualifies as a home-grown player, and one who Sky Sports claim to be available for as little as £5m.
Born in Cameroon, for whom he has won 48 caps, he moved to Arsenal as a teenager and fits the home-grown credentials, having spent three years registered with an FA-affiliated club prior to his 21st birthday.
He showed last year with West Ham that he had not lost a step despite only 29 league appearances in two years at Barca, and he could be even more motivated to perform at a Champions League club.
Chelsea perhaps view him as a replacement for John Obi Mikel, who The Mirror understands might be on his way to Dubai outfit Al Ain, while Man City could use him as a disciplined anchorman who would free up Yaya Toure to play further forward.
Whoscored.com reports that Song made 3.3 tackles and 1 key pass per game in the 2014-15 Premier League campaign, compared to Mikel’s 1.2 and 0.1 respectively, and 1.4 and 0.5 from City holding midfielder Fernando.
Somebody who can do that at a cost of only £5m makes Song a very attractive proposition. The fact that he is also home-grown qualified makes him absolute gold dust.