Best known for his time at Arsenal and AC Milan, Palace’s new signing Mathieu Flamini actually began his playing career in his homeland, as he progressed through Marseille’s academy to make his first-team bow in December 2003 aged just 19.
Playing in a star-studded line-up that included a young Didier Drogba and Fabien Barthez, L’OM reached the UEFA Cup final by knocking out Liverpool and Newcastle United along the way, but they were beaten by Valencia in the final. That would prove to be the young central midfielder’s final game for the club, as he was soon on his way to Arsenal.
Impressing Arsene Wenger in the early weeks of the campaign, Flamini would feature regularly for the Gunners in his first spell at the club and would play 153 for the Gunners during those first four seasons, including a substitute appearance in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final defeat to Barcelona. It was at this time that he earned all three of his French caps, which all came within a 12 month period.
In 2008 he swapped London for Milan as he joined the Rossoneri on a free transfer after his Arsenal deal expired. Flamini would go on to appear 123 times in their famous colours, playing alongside stars of the world game such as Ronaldinho, David Beckham, Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Paulo Maldini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Nesta, Andrei Shevchenko and Robinho to name a few, and unsurprisingly a Serie A title was lifted in 2010/11when Flamini made 23 league appearances.
However after being released by Milan in the summer of 2013, he initially began training with Arsenal in a bid to keep up his fitness but was awarded a Gunners contract in August. Flamini would become a first-team regular once again shortly after, but despite playing roles in their routes to two successive FA Cup finals, he remained on the bench in the victories over Hull City and Aston Villa.
Last season proved to be his final one at the Emirates Stadium as he played 24 times, including 16 in the Premier League, but now he will continue to add to his 168 English top-flight appearances in south London after penning his one year deal.