Mathieu Flamini is done at the Emirates after this season - we all know that, we all embrace that, we are all counting the days until that is a reality. What was unknown, though, is his thoughts on a next move. But now, thanks to various reports from various sources of various repute, his next move might be to these very shores, as these links all talk about discussions between Flamini (or his bagmen) and MLS about a potential move over the summer.
My first reaction, as an Arsenal fan, was relief; relief that he won't be tempted to try to stick it out in the Premier League, and relief that he won't break Arsenal players while he's doing so. Then, I put my MLS hat on, and my reaction actually got a lot more positive.
MLS, as you may or may not know, is a relentlessly physical league, thanks in no small part to refereeing that, to be charitable, isn't great. Because of that, players feel like they can regularly get away with, well, Flamini-level tackles that go completely uncalled, and in many cases,
like that one, they do get away with them (EDIT: Shea did get a yellow for that tackle). So, in terms of style of play alone, Flamini would probably fit right in on any MLS side.
The other thing is that, despite its reputation, MLS is no longer a retirement home for fading European stars. Oh sure, I mean, Steven Gerrard is there now, but he's really the exception - on his own team, you need look no further than Robbie Keane to find an example of a guy who, while he's not good enough to play at European elite levels any more, is definitely a good-to-above-average MLS player, and has been that for a few years. There are several of those around the league these days. MLS rewards hard work, and if your skills aren't what they were, you can still carve out a solid career, even in your early to mid 30's.
Guys of that level come to MLS and find that the same innate skills and work ethic that put them behind their younger peers in Europe puts them at or ahead of the MLS pack, and I think best case, Flamini becomes that type of player - I honestly think he could come to MLS and make a name for himself that doesn't include the words "oh dammit", and I hope for his sake he does.
Just, please, Mathieu - don't go to Seattle. Seriously. They're the worst. I mean, look at this kit!