Alex Song once revealed that he joined Barcelona purely for financial reasons, insisting that he ‘didn’t give a f***’ about his playing time in Spain. Song, who announced his retirement at the end of last year, also spent time at Arsenal and West Ham before hanging up his boots.
Song began his career in France, coming through the ranks at Bastia before catching the eye of legendary Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. The midfielder arrived in north London on an initial loan deal before making his move permanent a few months later, earning a significant wage increase in the process.
He went on to spend a huge chunk of his salary on an expensive sports car, the same one driven by his idol Thierry Henry, but eventually had to return it due to its sky-high running costs. In an interview with basketball star Pascal Siakam a few years back, Song explained: “Most footballers live beyond their means.
“I was at Arsenal for eight years but only began to earn a good living in the last four. That was because my salary went up a lot, but also because I came to realise what a waster I was. When I first joined them I was getting £15,000 a week. I was a young lad and I was ecstatic.
“I wanted to rub shoulders with the big boys. I could shop wherever I wanted and have crazy nights out. I would go to training and see Thierry Henry, the King, turn up in an absolute gem of a car. I told myself I wanted the same car at all costs.
“I went to the dealership, signed the papers and arranged to pay for it by standing order, and just like that I had the same car as the King, but I swear that I had to hand the car back inside two months. All my money was going on filling it with petrol. I told them: ‘Give me a Toyota – this car’s too much for me’.”
Song went on to leave Arsenal in 2012, joining Barcelona in the biggest move of his professional career. He later admitted that he chose to sign for the Catalan giants after becoming aware of the wages on offer, more than enough to soften the blow of being a bit-part player.
“When Barcelona offered me a contract, and I saw how much I would earn, I didn’t think twice,” said Song. “I felt my wife and children should have comfortable lives once my career is over. I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games, but I didn’t give a f***. I knew that now I would become a millionaire.”
Song ended up making a total of 65 appearances for Barcelona before joining Rubin Kazan on a free transfer in 2016. During the latter stages of his career, he also represented Swiss outfit Sion and Djiboutian club Arta/Solar 7 before announcing his retirement in December.