|Desc||Bacary Sagna spent seven seasons at Arsenal. Bacary Sagna’s arrival from Auxerre could rank as one of Arsene Wenger’s best signings, pound-for-pound. The quiet Frenchman instantly proved himself as one of the most reliable full-backs in the division and was duly named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of his first season at the Emirates|
|Org||France National Team|
|Club as Player||Monreal Impact|
2016 06 08 Retrieve
[Bacary Sagna calls Eric Cantona stupid] It’s a choice, it’s free speech. It doesn’t matter what race you are - French, North African, Chinese - Didier Deschamps is not a racist. The world is like this. He [Deschamps] is not a racist. I don’t think there are any problems. It is stupid of him [Cantona] to say such things just before the Euros are about to start. It’s just such a pity there are comments like this just before the Euros
[Benzema said in an interview that Deschamps had ‘bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France’. Sagna compared France’s situation, with the expectation around the team at a home tournament, to that of 1998 when Deschamps captained the World Cup-winning side] I remember a lot of the criticism of the French team. I remember that everybody had doubts about the team. That everyone was against the team and against the coach [Aime Jaquet]. The team was very strong though and they started the World Cup very well. I think we have to be inspired by what they did and the way they surprised everyone by winning the tournament
2019 12 15 Retrieve
[Bacary Sagna has claimed that Arsenal are run like a circus ahead of their Premier League clash with Manchester City] It’s a big circus at the club, you don’t really know who’s leaving and who is making the decisions. It seems like the players lack confidence. You can’t blame them because they don’t know who is going to be the next manager. It’s a tricky situation for the club
First of all they need to find a good manager and stability in the club. Because in past years they always have players leaving at the end of seasons and it’s been a long time since they kept the same group of players. You still have great players in Mesut Ozil and Nicolas Pepe and even the defence. I think it’s more like a lack of confidence why the defenders aren’t performing
2020 03 28 Retrieve
[Bacary Sagna has hit back at Cesc Fabregas after his comments about Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri being the only two players on his level during his latter years at Arsenal] I was surprised to read this. From him I was surprised because he was supposed to be one of the leaders of the team, he was one of the great prospects and as a leader and a true player, you don’t speak like that about your club. So I was surprised because he is a nice guy, he’s still a nice guy, this doesn’t change anything. But I was kind of surprised. Arsenal made him so saying that some players were not at his level was a bit harsh because I’m not sure out of all the seasons he was playing at the club, he was always an exemplary player. At that time the press was talking about him not running enough or tracking back. So other players could have said ‘you should be running more or doing more’. If you look at Liverpool today, all of them are running. This is a team. And maybe, because we didn’t have the right spirit at that time we didn’t make this little extra push, or make that little extra run to track players, maybe this is the reason we didn’t win
2020 03 30 Retrieve
[Sagna reveals truth behind Arsenal exit] I got upset, not when [Cesc] Fabregas left - because that was quite an obvious move - not when [Samir] Nasri left, but when Robin left. It was like a statement from the club. He left in a way that no-one understood because he was flying. He was a different type of player. An animal on the pitch, a goalscoring machine. When he left, I wondered why Arsenal didn’t try more to keep him. Even if they had to spend lots of money, just do it because you have to spend money to get another player. And if you want to win something, it’s going to take time for that player to adapt. I didn’t understand that and Alex Song’s move. The two of them left at the same time and I found out reading the French press. That got me really upset
Not long afterwards I had an interview with L’Equipe and they asked me what my future was and at that time, I hadn’t held any talks about my future and I only had one year left before the end of my contract. To me, personally, if they wanted me to stay I would have stayed. But I didn’t feel like they did everything to make me stay. I was not expecting them to run around after me, but I at least expected them to show me some love and make me feel like they wanted me to stay one year before the end of the same contract I had kept for six years without asking for one penny more. But they only talked to me after I did that interview with L’Equipe. It did not feel like a natural move and I didn’t feel comfortable at all. This hurt me as a player and as a person because I always gave my best, I never asked for anything from 2008 to 2014. I didn’t knock at the club’s door to change contract, I respected my contract, but the way I left was a bit dirty. I didn’t like it, I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. Something broke inside my head
It was not about money like people think or any way of leaving to win trophies. No, I was happy at Arsenal. But my head was gone. I was upset. I remember the fans singing ‘we want you to stay’, but I couldn’t stay because I was upset and I couldn’t play with my head. Even my dad talked to me, saying ‘look you need to clear this up’ but I said I was too upset. I was not even performing. I remember my dad and my brother came to a game and they didn’t recognise me. I had some great moments, some difficult moments. I had some good seasons, some average seasons. But during that period I think I did more positive things than negative things and I never asked for anything. So I expected a bit more respect and so I made up my mind. When they came and said how can we help you, I said it was too late
[After some near misses in terms of the title during Sagna’s spell at the club, and a painful defeat to Birmingham City in the League Cup final in 2011, Arsene Wenger’s side went into the game against Hull City as overwhelming favourites] It was a hard game for me, honestly. I knew I was going to leave and I wanted to win it so much. But when you want something too much, maybe it can have the opposite impact and we started really badly. On the pitch I had tears coming because I didn’t want to leave that way. I was desperate to win that game and so when we came back and managed to win, yes I was praying at the end because I was very grateful for winning in that shirt. For me, Arsenal is my beloved club. When I was in France, I used to watch Arsenal and it was something special to play for Arsenal. It was a privilege. So I was really grateful and I’m sill grateful to the club, to Arsene, because he was the one who brought me to the club and I had an amazing relationship with him.
[Sagna admits that game at Birmingham played a big part in the sudden loss of form] It was a massive blow to our team. We were so confident, we had some form and we were not scared of anyone. Everything was going our way. Even when we began the season, we managed to win no matter what. Every time we were losing 1-0, we used to come back and win. The fans played a big part in it as well. They were pushing and the atmosphere was great. We were doing very good and Eduardo was flying, he was scoring many goals. He was our main scorer and the fact that he got injured I think it put some insecurity in our team, it maybe made us think about what might happen next. It was quite the shock to be on the pitch that day. I don’t want to use it as an excuse because after this we didn’t manage to win for so many games, which was not normal. That day at Birmingham was bad. It put insecurity into the team and we were not able to come back
[Many felt Gallas’ outburst was another contributing factor in Arsenal’s capitulation, but Sagna does not believe that assessment is a fair one] I think it’s easy to say that he had the wrong attitude, but he was our captain and that time he tried his best. Of course, showing in front of everyone that he wasn’t happy was not the best action, but for us, it was more that no-one could really understand why [he did it], instead of being upset with him. It’s the kind of thing that happened that shouldn’t be happening. But he was not the reason why we went down and I think everyone was a bit harsh on him. The press was really hard on him, even the club. I think he lost the captaincy soon after. Of course he made a mistake, but we were still on the path to achieving a great season and we all could have done better. On the pitch as players and as a club
2020 03 31 Retrieve
[Bacary Sagna says William Saliba has all the attributes needed to be a major success at Arsenal] First he will need to adapt to English football. He is a big prospect for the future but Arsenal need him to perform as soon as he starts. He is aware of that probably, but he has a lot of qualities and he will learn fast. Hopefully he will achieve good things and become one of the best centre-backs in the league. He is very confident in defending, he is not afraid to defend one against one and most of the time he wins the duels, which is the best quality as a defender. You need some security, you need some presence and he has that
For him, staying in the French league after signing for Arsenal was the best decision he could make because he knew he was going to change to a bigger club, but he knew he had to improve his performances. It was like a test, he had to step up his game during this season and the last game I watched of him was amazing. I analysed him as an Arsenal fan and he did very well
Someone who has always said don’t speak about my age is Kylian Mbappe. When he started saying this he was 19 and now he’s one of the best strikers in the world. If he [Saliba] believes he can be as good as Van Dijk, he’s probably been watching his games and analysing them. It’s about hard work. If you want to be the best at the back, it’s all about work and belief
2020 04 01 Retrieve
[Sagna tips Pogba for Serie A return] I see more Paul returning to Juventus because Cristiano [Ronaldo] is there and because Juventus is the club that made him shine. He loves the club, he already knows it.
It will be tricky for him to go to Madrid now because Madrid are not doing so well and there would be big expectation on him and the Madrid team is getting old. Juve have bought some players like Ramsey and Cristiano. OK Cristiano is not young anymore, but he plays like a young boy and they still have a young team. If you think about the next two or three years, I think Juve has bigger potential than Madrid
2020 04 01b Retrieve
I think it was a great choice because he has personality. If he’s not happy about a player he will go straight to them and tell them they are out of the team and that they will have to work to come back
If you look at the team, even the team spirit has changed. Whether it’s running or tracking, they are like animals. Everyone was criticising [Shkodran] Mustafi and David Luiz, but Mikel has changed their way of defending. Maybe he gave them some more confidence, some more love, I don’t know what he’s done but he’s changed something. It’s because he has a strong spirit and a strong attitude. He is someone who is charismatic. When he stands on the pitch he sends a message to his players. He shows real leadership
When I called the club a circus, it was not about the players, the performance or their quality. It was about the club. How you can be in London, which is probably the most attractive city in the UK, have a great stadium such as the Emirates and not be doing more? Basically, the club is able to bring in any player today because every player loves Arsenal. If you are any player in foreign leagues, their beloved team along with United, is Arsenal. The club could be much more higher. Obviously now with big spenders like City coming into the game they have tried to have an ethic, which I respect a lot, but you have to make some choices. Don’t expect the players to perform like teams who have maybe two squads.
As a player you want the club to show some desire. Not necessarily in spending money, but someone needs to run the club properly and you don’t really know who is leading Arsenal. Who is taking the big decisions? Back in the day you knew Arsenal were taking decisions through Arsene Wenger. He was the leader. Since he left, you don’t know who is leading. For a club like Arsenal, I thought there would be more leadership. That’s why I said that about it being a circus. It’s because I love Arsenal. When you love something it’s like having a relationship with someone. Whenever I’m critical, I’m not critical in a bad way. I just can’t understand what’s happening
2020 04 03 Retrieve
[‘Focused’ Benjamin Mendy starting to show his value to Guardiola and Manchester City] Well he’s more focused now - you don’t see him so much on social networks. He had a big injury which is very difficult to come back from, so everyone blamed it on not being focused. But after such a big injury, it takes at least one year to come back to your best level and he’s now coming back at the right time. He’s getting stronger and more confident and the way he moves is more fluid. He’s getting better and better.
[Sagna says that Guardiola is very particular about what he wants from his players] You have to be more than a full-back, you have to be a midfield player and a sprinter too. It’s not so difficult, you just have to be focused during training because whenever he asks you to do something and be at a certain point, you have be ready. It’s like playing chess. He has the plan and you have to respect the plan. One single player can kill the plan and you don’t want to be that player because he won’t be happy. He wants you to be confident and fearless. You have to be very confident when you play for him. You have to play his game and as a full-back you have to do more than just defending. You have to get forward, you have to be right in the way you defend whenever you have the ball. You have to be very focused on what he wants
2020 04 05 Retrieve
[Sagna gives Arsenal £150m Aubameyang warning] He can’t go now because Arsenal are on the way to building something strong. They can’t afford to lose him. If they have to pay him, then just pay him because if they want someone else of his quality they cost £150m. So don’t spend this £150m, just spend £50m and give it to him. It’s the same as van Persie and I think you have to learn from that situation. Auba deserves it. I’m not saying that because of his name or because he has scored a few goals. He’s the best striker in the league.
One year ago someone asked me if he was world class and I replied no. Some people were not happy about my answer, but to me he had the potential to be better and to be more clinical. One year later, yes he is world class because every time he is in front of goal he scores. Even his movement is different. He is clinical, he is so dangerous. As a defender you don’t want to be facing this type of player
Auba is a machine, he has scored many goals for the team. If you want to build something, it has to be around him. Giving him the armband gave him some confidence. He is the captain, which means they want him to lead. Today, the stadium is the club’s stadium. It’s always full, they are making money. Of course there are other ways of spending money, but I would rather pay him than trying to find a solution with him than losing him and then wasting time trying with someone else, and finding someone else now is very, very difficult. It’s like playing chess. You have to be smart. He deserves it, just give it to him
2020 04 06 Retrieve
[Bacary Sagna has given his backing to Alexandre Lacazette] Laca is vital. He is the type of player who gives everything for the team. Of course you always see the one scoring the goals, like Aubameyang - who is a goalscoring machine - but the amount of work Laca puts in is amazing. The way he holds the ball, the way he fights for the ball, the way he presses the defence. This is invisible work that not everyone will see. But for Arsenal’s system and the way they want to play, he is amazing
[Sagna is adamant that the former Lyon man should not be judged purely on how many times he finds the net] He can score many goals, in front of the goal he is clinical. But most of the time he has his back to the goal. When he receives the ball, he is trying to protect and defend the ball for other players. He is getting kicked for his team-mates and this is why, for me, he is vital to the Arsenal system. He is running a lot. You know how tiring it is to run all the time and press from the front? It’s very tiring, people don’t realise how difficult it is. On top of this, yes you have to score goals. People will ask to score goals because we only remember goalscorers, but he is doing a lot
2020 04 14 Retrieve
[Pep Guardiola rates Aymeric Laporte as the best left-sided defender in the world] He has the quality to be in the French team, yes. I didn’t expect him to be so good at City. I knew he was a good player, but he was the main player with De Bruyne [last season], they were just fantastic. At the back he is a rock and with the ball he has great ability. He is the type of player you want to have in your team because he’s like a robot. When you tell him to do something, he will do it. Technically he is very good, he is very complete
2020 04 17 Retrieve
[Mbappe urged to stay one more season at PSG before considering Real Madrid move] I think playing one more season in Paris would be good for him because Paris has a good team and they have a good chance to win the Champions League. Paris are in a good way so as long as they play with confidence and don’t think about what has happened to them in the past in the Champions League, they have a very good chance. When they played against Dortmund I didn’t expect them to win because I felt they still had this fear of losing, but it was different. And whenever Neymar and Mbappe play and they have the right attitude on the pitch, they can beat anyone. When you see Neymar tracking back like he did against Dortmund it’s a good sign. So before leaving, it would be good for him [Mbappe] to be successful with Paris
[Sagna accepts the young striker has a big decision to make] It’s difficult to refuse Real Madrid, so it’s going to be a tough period for him. As a football fan of course you want to see him playing at his best level and for the best team. But Madrid has [Karim] Benzema and Benzema is the main player for Madrid. It’s tricky
2020 05 24 Retrieve
[Ex-Arsenal defender Sagna on suffering serious injury after brother’s death] It’s hard to describe but nothing felt right. In my head I knew exactly what I could bring to the team but my body couldn’t do it. Some days I would feel like a robot. I used to drive there and not even remember the way I went. I never spoke to anyone about it. People who know me know that I’m naturally quiet. It’s not in my nature to show off. I would turn up, train, give me best and then if I have to step forward, I will, but I’m naturally quiet and I would never ask for help. My team-mates obviously knew something was wrong because they were living with me. They were so good with me, they made me laugh so much and they were good. I actually remember Gael Clichy taking me to a show called Africa Africa in London, at the O2. I knew Gael from the national team and he was really close to me. He really helped me. All the guys, they made me laugh and made me realise that I’m still blessed, no matter what happened. It’s a blessing and I had to go forward. Everyone was good at the club, even the coach, everyone talked to me in a way to help me
Like I said, I never asked anyone for help. That’s why I have Neil, one of the psychologists, to thank. It was a night before a game, I remember it so well. ‘Bac, can I talk to you?’ he said.’Yes, of course.’ ‘Well, I’ve noticed that you’re here but you’re not here.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘I’ve been watching you for a while and you’re here but your mind is somewhere else. What’s on your mind?’ So we talked. I opened up to him, and it helped. I felt like I’d let go and that it was time for me to step up. It was time for me to just enjoy the fact I was wearing the shirt. It wasn’t down to anyone else, it was up to me to put my head down and work hard. Little by little, I came back to my best. I got my confidence back, I was more decisive and I was playing better football. I thought differently. Football used to be everything but then once the 90 minutes are over, there are other things. Those other things are important to talk about, too.
2020 05 25 Retrieve
[Sagna says poor self-esteem cost Arsenal trophies] We just played game by game and we were winning a lot but obviously and eventually when we had to perform in certain games, we were failing. Maybe it was because we put too much pressure on ourselves. Most of the games we had to play, we played well and we won. But for example when we had to play against the top four, we found it difficult to play against them at that time. I believe we under-evaluated ourselves. Playing for Chelsea image-wise was something different. They used their image a lot, they used to have some big players in the national team and we used to talk about them more than they talked about us. Maybe in our heads, they were bigger players than us. On the pitch, we had as much quality as they had whenever we played, and when we played the Arsenal way nobody could beat us. I believed nobody could beat us. We used to play simple passes, one, two-touches maximum. But I believe we under-evaluated ourselves which is a big mistake in life
[Much as defeat to City three years later would derail their ambitions, the incident effectively played a key role in crippling Arsenal’s title pursuit again, with Manchester United ultimately claiming the crown] It was a shock to everyone. We were shocked because Eduardo was our brother and when someone gets hurt, everyone gets hurt. I don’t know if it had an impact on the rest of the game, but for sure it was a turning point in our season. That season, every time he was in front of goal, he used to score. He was so confident. We stick together and we fight together. When you lose someone, back in the day we were young and maybe we didn’t know how to deal with these kinds of injuries. For most of us, it was the first time of seeing it live. We had to be able to separate feelings and work, but as I said before we’re only humans. It was just a bad day, a bad memory.
2020 06 02 Retrieve
[One of their key players was in hospital with a career-threatening injury and the squad was divided following an extraordinary on-field meltdown by captain William Gallas, after Birmingham had snatched an equaliser in the closing seconds thanks to a James McFadden penalty] It was quite the shock to be on the pitch that day. I don’t want to use it as an excuse for what happened after, but that day at Birmingham was very bad. It put insecurity into the team and we were not able to come back from it
Everything had been going our way. Even when we began the season, we managed to win no matter what. Every time we were losing 1-0, we used to come back and win. We believed we could do it. We were so confident and were not scared of anyone. We were playing so well, but that Birmingham game put some insecurity in our team for the first time. It maybe made us think about what might happen next. It was a massive blow
2020 06 03 Retrieve
[From Player of the Season to Nketiah’s back-up: What’s gone wrong for Lacazette at Arsenal?] He is vital. He is the type of player who gives everything for the team. Of course you always see the one scoring the goals, like Aubameyang - who is a goalscoring machine - but the amount of work Laca puts in is amazing. The way he holds the ball, the way he fights for the ball, the way he presses the defence. This is invisible work that not everyone will see. But for Arsenal’s system and the way they want to play, he is amazing. The way he holds the ball, the way he fights for the ball, the way he presses the defence. This is invisible work that not everyone will see. But for Arsenal’s system and the way they want to play, he is amazing
2020 06 15 Retrieve
[Bacary Sagna says Arsenal duo David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have improved under Mikel Arteta] I believe Sokratis and David Luiz are really good players. I don’t know if they have been under pressure because we kept talking about them and after committing quite a few mistakes they were on the radar. But since Mikel came I think they are more solid and more complementary together. Arsenal doesn’t concede many goals either so I can tell that there is an improvement. I’ve seen Luiz might be going at the end of the season but it would be a great thing for me to see him playing another season, a full season, under Mikel Arteta. I think Mikel just needs time to settle the defence and make them stronger