Merida on the Edge of Greatness
Fran Merida joined Arsenal in the summer of 2006 after an amazing disappearing act! Merida spent over a year away from the Nou Camp in a plan devised by his agent to ensure that he did not sign a new contract with Barcelona.
The coaches at Arsenal were and still are highly impressed by young Spaniard. Merida has gone through the normal Carling Cup route to first team football with three substitute appearances in his first season, followed by a spell on loan at Real Sociedad where he made 14 appearances. This season he has made the bench on several occasions and eventually made two league appearances from the bench against West Brom. and Portsmouth.
Arsene Wenger is a big fan of Merida; he has compared the Spaniard to his compatriot Cesc, which is a great compliment from the boss. When Merida signed a new contract in April 2008, Wenger described Merida as an “absolutely amazing” talent.
“Fran is very technical. He still needs to grow physically but football-wise there is no problem. He is an absolutely amazing player.”
Merida had few opportunities this season in the first team; this was mainly due to our poor form at a vital part of the season which did not allow Wenger the opportunity to blood him earlier. It was surprising that Merida did not go out on loan this season, where he would have learnt more than kicking his heels in the reserves.
There is no doubt that he is an amazing player, but we are so used to seeing youngsters come through the ranks quickly at Arsenal that we get concerned when a player is 19 and has not played over a dozen games for the first team. The plan for Fran must be to accompany the first team on the pre-season tour and then spend next season on loan at a club where he will play. Sending him out on loan and then to have him spend most of the season no playing as happened with Traore once Adams was sacked at Portsmouth will not help the player develop. The loan spell must be in England; the pace is different in Spain and will not acclimatise the player for the Premier League.
Give Merida another two years and we will then be able to admire another midfield wonder.