Looking at Philippe Senderos you would have thought he was tailor made for the Premier League. He was a big, strong centre back who was excellent in the air. He was your no nonsense defender.
When he joined Arsenal in 2003 as an 18 year old from Swiss side Servette, he was said to be one of the best defensive prospects in Europe and after an initial set back through injury he finally got a run of games in 2005. In 12 games for Arsenal and Switzerland he didn’t concede a goal. Senderos looked the real deal and at only 20 years of age, he could only get better and better.
His performance that year in the FA Cup final against Manchester United was excellent. He never gave the United forwards a sniff at goal and was strong and solid at the back. Supporters were starting to think that we had our next Tony Adams.
The following season Senderos was a star performer in the club’s Champions League run which took them to the final. As the defence kept 10 clean sheets during the tournament. Senderos was performing at the highest level. His performances against Italian side AC Milan in 2007/08 season in both legs made him really stand out. Senderos was immense in the ties.
The problem however for the Swiss defender, was the performances were too few and far between. The Swiss defender had moments of brilliance where he looked the real deal but at times he looked plain awkward and far too error prone. It could be said that Arsenal started to rely to much on the young defender and as mistakes occurred his confidence waned and he struggled to get it back.
For the Arsenal fans though, the two glaring errors against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter final was enough for the fans to mark him down as error prone and not good enough to play in an Arsenal shirt. With his games limited he decided to force a move away and went out on loan to AC Milan with a view to making the move permanent. But the move turned sour in a injury hit season he only managed 19 appearances.
The thing was, had Senderos stayed at the club he would probably of broken back into the first team as both Gallas and Kolo Toure found themselves struggling, with Toure eventually sold to Manchester City. After forcing his loan move to Milan, Senderos was well down the pecking order when he arrived back at Arsenal and went on loan to Everton the following year. After making just two appearances for the Toffees he was released from Arsenal making 117 appearances for the club scoring four goals. He signed for Fulham on a free transfer. making 68 appearances in his four seasons before leaving for Valencia for a season and then went on to play for Aston Villa, Grasshoppers and finally Glasgow Rangers last season where he made 3 appearances before being released this summer.
Senderos is now a free agent.
You have to wonder what might have been for the strong centre back had he stayed at Arsenal and fought for his place rather than forcing a loan move to AC Milan. Yes he was error prone but so have some of the best defenders in the world while they were young. Would Senderos of improved if he had stayed at the club, we may never know, but at one point he was being discussed as a future captain, so he was not all that bad.
As he never went on to set the world on fire, you feel that maybe he was a player who at times would look fantastic then in the next breath be prone to a glaring error. What Senderos needed was confidence and perhaps an arm round his shoulder telling him he was needed at the club.
It’s difficult to sum up Senderos’ Arsenal career, a chance missed by the club or a lucky swerve? You decide. For me, I felt we never saw the best of Philippe Senderos consistently over a whole season. He was never going to be the next Tony Adams but lets be honest who ever will. He was a player who, with the right guidance may of gone on to become a very good Arsenal centre back for many years to come.