Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song has admitted that money was the motivating factor behind his decision to dump the North London club for Barcelona in 2012, despite knowing he would not get much game-time at the LaLiga giants.
Song rose to become a key figure of Arsene Wenger’s squad in his final few years at Arsenal, missing just four Premier League games in the 2011/12 season.
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But that caught the attention of Barcelona and the prospect of earning more money at the Nou Camp appealed to him.
“Most footballers live beyond their means. I was at Arsenal for eight years but only began to earn a good living in the last four,” Song said in an Instagram Live chat with Cameroonian basketball star Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors.
“That was because my salary went up a lot – but also because I came to realise what a waster I was.
“When I first joined them I was getting £15,000 a week. I was a young lad, and I was ecstatic.
“I wanted to rub shoulders with the big boys. I could shop wherever I wanted and have crazy nights out.
“I would go to training and see Thierry Henry – the King – turn up in an absolute gem of a car. I told myself I wanted the same car at all costs.
“I went to the dealership, signed the papers and arranged to pay for it by standing order – and just like that I had the same car as The King.
“But I swear that I had to hand the car back inside two months. All my money was going on filling it with petrol. I told them, ‘Give me a Toyota – this car’s too much for me’.
“When I next went to training Thierry asked me, ‘Where’s your car, son?’ I told him it’s on a higher level than me.
“During my entire time at Arsenal I couldn’t even save £100,000, while people thought I must be a millionaire.”
Song continued:”When Barcelona offered me a contract and I saw how much I would earn, I didn’t think twice. I felt my wife and children should have comfortable lives once my career is over.
“I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games.
“But I didn’t give a f*** – I knew that now I would become a millionaire.
“I’ll always say that a 20-year-old who drives a Ferrari is a poor man, as at that age he’s not yet achieved anything. But a man of 50 who drives a Bentley is a man to be respected.”
Song played 65 times for Barcelona in two seasons before being loaned out to West Ham for two years.
He won the Laliga and Spanish Super Cup in 2013.
He left Barcelona for good in 2016 and joined the Russian side Rubin Kazan.