Report: The "other" signing FC Barcelona made in the summer of 2012, Alex Song joined the club to much fan disapproval. Without a clear role at the club it quickly became obvious that Tito Vilanova and staff hoped to get Javier Mascherano 2.0 in Song. They didn't.
White it has to be said that at defensive midfielder Song didn't do much wrong, especially after the customary rocky start for new arrivals, but his play a center-back was poor. Song lacked the pace to partner a defender like Gerard Pique, and lacked overall positioning and tackling skills to be considered a central defender. That also quickly became evident to the coaching staff as the center-back experiment lasted only three games after which Song returned to a more familiar holding midfielder position.
At first the Cameroonian appeared slow there, always taking an extra second to really make sure if that's the right play to make. When the competition at the position is Sergio Busquets your every flaw will be exposed, especially when you're a new signing and all eyes are on you. Gradually Song's performances got better and he started making quicker, better decisions as the season progressed.
With Busquets suffering a late season injury Song was given a larger role in March. The Cameroonian appeared in nine consecutive La Liga games, in eight of them appearing from the opening whistle. On the international stage Song made three appearance for the Cameroon national team, failing to reach the scoreboard in any of them.
At the end of the season, when all the numbers were in, Song actually completed a higher percentage of passes than Busquets, 93%, but more often than not Song chose to make the safer pass instead of a riskier, high-reward play. Defensively Song was very solid when playing at defensive midfielder, showing good positioning and anticipation. He also proved to be very good in the air game, ending the season as one of the better headers of the ball on the team.
Moment of the season: Without a doubt Song's moment of the season came in November when the defensive midfielder scored his first, and so far only, Blaugrana goal. Song beat the Real Zaragoza goalkeeper with a low shot after a lovely back-pass from Lionel Messi. This was, coincidentally, one of Song's best performances of the season as he also completed 93% of his passes on 114 touches, won all three areal duels, and made three interceptions.
La Liga | FC Barcelona - Real Zaragoza (3-1) | 17-11-2012 | J12 | Resumen (via La Liga)
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
|BB Community Rating*||6.48|
*BB Community Rating represents the average rating (out of 10) Barca Blaugranes community members gave to the player for his performances throughout the season
Record with Alex Song in the starting lineup: 19-4-2
2013-14 Outlook: With no competition for the backup defensive midfielder position Song figures to get about the same amount of playing time as this season, if not a couple minutes less - provided the formation stays the same under the newly appointed coach. With a year of tiki-taka under his belt Song should improve as a player, and hopefully he won't be forced to make any appearances at center-back because that would mean Barcelona against didn't have any luck with injuries.
Next Up: Andres Iniesta