By CLIFF HAYES
ALEX SONG today lifts the lid on his shock £15million move to Barcelona and insists: I wanted to sign for life at Arsenal — but they fobbed me off.
The Cameroon midfielder is the latest star to join the mass Emirates exodus.
In his first interview since signing for the Spanish giants, Song, 24, reveals how he:
Wanted to stay at the Gunners for life.
Was cold-shouldered every time he tried to arrange talks over his future.
Was distraught when he read stories from “club sources” claiming he had a bad attitude and was constantly late for training.
Song said: “I woke up and read those things in the paper and was really surprised and disappointed. I love Arsenal, I never wanted to leave.
“I was ready to commit my future to the club. All I wanted were talks about a new contract but each time we were due to sit down, the club postponed it. I was fobbed off.
“I wanted a new five-year contract at Arsenal. In the end I got one — at Barcelona.”
Song made 197 appearances for the Gunners since joining in a £1m deal from French club Bastia in August 2006.
Last season, he played 46 times, led the way in goal assists and came second in the fans’ Player of the Season poll behind Robin van Persie.
Ironically, both players have now joined the annual Arsenal exodus, with RVP signing a four-year Manchester United contract. Song was midway through his six-year, £55,000-a-week Arsenal deal when he followed RVP out of the Emirates.
The midfielder first asked in November about the prospects of talking over a new deal.
Song was keen to show his loyalty to the club at a time when a glut of stars had quit.
However, he claims he was told to wait until the New Year.
January came and went and Arsenal indicated talks would begin in March or April.
Song insists those were postponed and he was asked to wait until the end of the season — then until after Euro 2012.
Finally, he was told the club would let him know when they were ready to start negotiations on any new deal.
Song added: “I had been trying for eight months to start talking about a new long-term deal but the club kept postponing me all the time, saying ‘You have three years left’.
“I hadn’t talked about money I just wanted to sit down and discuss a new deal — I wanted to commit my career to the club I loved.
“Then out of the blue, Barcelona came in for me.
“And, suddenly, I was wanted by the biggest club in the world and they wanted to give me a five-year deal.”
Arsenal said they would talk to him in September or October, after the transfer window.
But he felt he was being duped into snubbing Barca without any assurances.
Song said: “Barcelona were prepared to offer me a five-year deal. I had asked Arsenal for eight months for the same.
“When the best team in the world recognises your talents it means you must be doing something right.
“If Arsenal thought I wasn’t enthusiastic in training then maybe it was I didn’t understand that I was contributing on the pitch and they didn’t want to sit down with me.”
Song’s move to the Catalan capital was quickly agreed but Song was furious when stories appeared — from Arsenal sources — accusing him of being lazy, having a bad attitude and being late for training.
He added: “I’m really upset. These accusations are hurtful, they are slurs on my character.
“I have the utmost respect for Arsene Wenger. I loved him like a father and he is a fantastic coach.
“He made me the player I am and I am indebted to him for that.
“There was never any trouble between us, so for someone within the club to suggest that really upsets me.”
Barca clearly believe they have captured a gem and have inserted a staggering £63m get-out clause in his contract.
Song is reunited with former Arsenal captain and close pal Cesc Fabregas in a side crammed with superstar talent like Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
The Cameroon star said: “I will always love Arsenal but Barcelona are the best team in the world. I may not start every game but I can’t wait for the challenge.
“I would have stayed but when the Barcelona train comes in for you, that is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and you just can’t miss it.”