Often Partisan


A few days ago, I wrote a post about players who were out of contract at the end of the current season. One of those players was Sebastian Larsson, and as there is a lack of Premiership action this weekend I thought I’d go a bit further into detail about the Swedish winger.

As someone who played right back and very occasionally right winger in my younger days, I’ve always been drawn to players who turn out in that position for Birmingham City, and I think partially because of that I have to admit Seb is one of my all time favourite Blues players. Thus I’m going to be a bit biased about him, and probably focus a bit more on the positives. You see, in my mind I think Blues should do everything in their power to ensure that Larsson stays with us should we remain in the top flight.

I’ll readily admit that should the worst happen and Birmingham City are relegated from the top flight, then Larsson will leave us for pastures new – which I believe will be abroad. I doubt even throwing money at him would persuade him to stay; he’s firmly esconced into the Swedish national side now (and at the time of writing he was leading the assists column in the UEFA 2012 European Championships Qualifying matches), and I think he knows for his own international ambitions he has to continue playing in the top flight of a good European league.

However, should we stay up, I think it’s imperative we sit down with Seb and his agent, and thrash out a deal that is good for all parties. It’s not a question of losing him for nothing that bothers me; it’s the fact I believe Seb will be difficult to replace. Take for example David Bentley, who has been with us on loan since the middle of January. Despite having a £15million price tag on him in the past, and a reputation for being a very skilful footballer, I don’t believe he has yet shown us to be as worthy of a place as our mercurial Scandinavian. Sure, Bentley might have the edge skill wise, and is more than likely quicker than Seb (who admittedly is pretty one-paced), he doesn’t have the drive, the graft or the “fit” into the team that Seb does.

You see, whilst Larsson doesn’t drive to the byline to whip in a ball, it’s because he doesn’t have to – he’s much better at whipping in balls from just inside the half, curving them to hit the front line between the defenders and the goalkeeper. If we need to get down the outside, then Stephen Carr is more than happy to bomb on, whilst Seb covers the right back defensively. It’s an excellent partnership that has served Birmingham City well, and I think letting Seb go would cause the team to need a while to re-adjust to a new strategy. McLeish likes us to set up quite narrow, and having Seb who is a right midfielder more than a right winger allows him to do that.

Is he worth £30k a week? Probably not – but then again, I don’t think he’ll get offered that much elsewhere. If we stay up, we can offer him European competition for the first time – something that I think he really will bear in mind before upping sticks for new adventures. He’s settled here, he knows the club, he knows the fans. He has a young family. Blues should make Seb aware that he’s got a good deal at Blues – a first team place more often than not, a team that caters to the way he plays and that has nurtured him from the 21 year old who was on his way out into the footballing wilderness from Arsenal into a regular international. Money isn’t always everything after all – and for Blues, in my opinion at least, it’s better the devil you know.

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