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● The Indomitable Lion has improved immeasurably, but if he can't curb attacking instincts then Wenger should sell to Barca. London Mirror columnist John Cross argues that Arsenal need a top defensive midfielder but questions whether Song is on the same hymn sheet.

Few players divide opinion like Alex Song © Getty Images

Some Arsenal fans believe he is a genius who can unlock opposing defences with a killer through ball who is one of the best midfielders in Europe.

Others get driven to distraction by a player who is supposedly a defensive minded midfielder who lacks discipline because he enjoys getting forward too much.

I never thought Song would become the player he is today. Never in a million years. I didn't think he'd make it at Arsenal. His improvement is massive credit both to the player himself and also Arsene Wenger. Even Wenger admits his transformation has made him unrecognisable from the player he was.

Song has certainly improved beyond all recognition from a game at Fulham in 2006 when he was substituted at half time and loaned to Charlton two months later. Back then it looked as if he was going to struggle to make it in the Premier League let alone England.

Even Song acknowledged his improvement in this Mirror Football interview from 2009.

He also revealed his family are the closest thing to his heart. This is the guy that also walked for hours in the snow from the Emirates to Brent Cross after a match was postponed. You can't imagine many players doing that. Although another time he did let slip that he dyed his hair so he stood out in the crowd.

Song has now gone from being squad player to a player courting interest from major European clubs, including Barcelona . They are clearly not trying to buy him because of his outstanding defensive ability.

Song loves to get forward and last season his assists and ability to pick out Robin van Persie were incredibly impressive.

Song's passes for the Dutchman's goals against Liverpool and Everton stood out. He finished joint fourth in the assists table, behind only David Silva, Antonio Valencia and Juan Mata - and level with Emmanuel Adebayor - on 11 assists.

But when Song first became an Arsenal regular, it was not because of his attacking ability. He was supposed to protect the back four.

It's this that is making Arsene Wenger think long and hard about Song. Barcelona have been courting him and may make an offer. Clearly phone calls and enquiries have been made.

But this one is different.

© Getty Images

Song is contracted until 2015. This is a fact that has been checked. Arsenal don't need to sell him and their hand is not being forced.

If they sell, then it will be Arsenal's decision. No-one else's.

And I get the impression that Wenger is tempted. In fact, if Wenger could replace Song with Yann M'Vila - in like for like terms - then he would do it.

Arsenal have scouted Rennes midfielder M'Vila for a long time. His bad boy reputation put them off earlier in the summer. However, the deal may not yet be dead.

As one former player and contact within the game pointed out to me, at £10m his reputation is OK. At £15m, it's bad.

There can be no doubt that Arsenal have been looking at Real Madrid's Tukish midfielder Nuri Sahin with half a mind on Song leaving this summer.

Sahin is an excellent prospect, different to Song but would give them strength in depth in an area where they struggled for numbers last season. They still want to bring in another defender as Bacary Sagna will miss the start of the season.

If I were a betting man, I would fancy that Song would still be at Arsenal on September 1. But that's by no means a certainty.

Equally, Robin van Persie is by no means a foregone conclusion. That saga has not dragged on this long to be resolved in two minutes.

People around the Arsenal camp have been left with a vibe that the club's spending spree on Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have made van Persie think twice.

But Manchester United are likely to come back in to test van Persie and Arsenal's resolve . Manchester City and Juventus have also had bids turned down.

I feel even if van Persie is sold, they are a stronger all round squad of players. Van Persie - Arsenal fans like it or not - carried the team in certain games. They now have more forward options.

If Arsenal do sell Song and bring in M'Vila then defensively they will be stronger, in my opinion. They now also have Mikel Arteta and Cazorla providing ideas and inspiration from midfield. Hopefully, Jack Wilshere will also come back.

But every team needs a good anchor man. Song must go back to being the strong, disciplined midfielder this coming season. Is he really good technically to play for Barcelona? The jury is out.

Assists are very nice but he's not in the team for his assists. If he can't put his attacking instincts to one side, then Arsenal should sell and move on.

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