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Getting To Know: Alex Song

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Full name: Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong
Squad No: 25
Position: Midfielder
Date of birth: 9 September 1987
Place of birth: Douala, Cameroon
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 74kg (163 lbs)

Born in the commercial capital of Cameroon, Douala, Alex Song had a difficult childhood. His father passed away when Alex was three years old. His cousin, Rigobert Song, therefore became a large influence on why Alex became a footballer. But because he was unable to find a club in Cameroon he moved to France where he joined Ligue 1 side SC Bastia at the age of 13.

Song remained in the clubs youth ranks for the first three seasons and was promoted to the first team prior the 2004-05 season. He made 35 appearances in his first professional season and even though he didn't feature at all offensively he was noticed by Arsene Wenger and Arsenal FC. Song joined the London club on loan at first, but even though he didn't appear much in England, Arsenal were impressed enough to offer £1 million to make the signing permanent.

Song remained with Arsenal for six months more before he was loaned out to Charlton Athletic. For Charlton Song made 12 appearances and added one assist. After his return to Arsenal Song became increasingly more important to Wenger and his team. His roles in the team often changed as he went from being a full-time defensive midfielder to playing higher up the pitch. In six and a half seasons Song appeared in 204 games for the Gunners, scoring 10 goals and assisting on 24 more.

In the summer of 2012 FC Barcelona made a €19 million offer for the Cameroonian midfielder, an offer Arsenal accepted. Song signed a five-year contract with the Catalan club on 20 August with an €80 million buy-out clause. Song has so far made only two appearances for Barcelona.

Internationally Song was first capped by France at the U-16 level where he made 6 appearances. At the U-17 level he started playing for Cameroon and he never went back to playing for Les Bleus. In 2005, aged 18, Song already made his senior debut and since then he has made 34 appearances, including one in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Song is still waiting for his first international goal.

Profile
Song is a versatile midfielder that is capable playing higher up the pitch or as a holding midfielder. He even has experience playing in the heart of the defense. His ball distribution is good, but not quite world class as he has been known to misplace passes. In the 2011-12 season he proved that he can be a large threat offensively as he finished the season with a career-high 14 assists. He also adds a physical presence to the team and is a tireless runner. However, Song has a tendency to venture out of position which can leave the team exposed on the counter.

Honors
Cameroon

  • African U-17 Championship (1): 2003

Individual

  • Africa Cup of Nations Best XI (2): 2008, 2010

Next up: Martín Montoya