The name Pascal Cygan must still make Wenger flinch. The great French coach could probably justify the exorbitant fee spent on José Antonio Reyes as a long-term investment that never quite panned out. There are a bunch of people in the City who would doubtless understand and probably now have the time to listen. But the €3 million he spent on his cumbersome compatriot would look dodgy even on the books of Lehmann Brothers.
In Wenger’s defence, Cygan has always disguised his flaws well – behind awards, including France’s Etoile d’Or for his “consistent” performances at Lille, and behind trophies, inexplicably including a Premiership title in 2003-4. It wasn’t until you actually saw him try to run, or kick a football, or turn in a small space, that his failings as a player became apparent.
This weekend, another coach was left red in the cheeks by a Cygan masterclass in defending. Villareal‘s eminent Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini, who has used Cygan sparingly during his three years at the club – just 42 times, in fact – paid the ultimate price for selecting the former Arsenal man against Osasuna this Saturday. With Pellegrini’s side leading 1-0 thanks to a fine first-half goal from former Manchester United man Giuseppe Rossi, Cygan fluffed a routine clearance in his own six-yard box to allow rival player Dady to seal an away draw for La Liga‘s bottom club.
You can watch the highlights from the game here, including Rossi’s sublimely taken goal. Cygan is in yellow – apparently when he left Arsenal Wenger insisted he never be allowed to wear red again. The memories were just a bit too painful.