Bacary Sagna on FIFA, Arsenal, Man City & Declan Rice

TGC caught up with former Arsenal, Man City and France full-back Bacary Sagna to talk about the title race, FIFA, and more.
Bacary Sagna in his France kit
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Bacary Sagna is a name familiar to many Premier League fans, having been a dependable right back with over 200 appearances for current league leaders, Arsenal, as well as more than 50 for their title rivals, Manchester City.

The former France international sat down with TGC to talk about both teams, the title race, and the possibility of Declan Rice signing for the Gunners – as well as some FIFA, naturally.

Were there any players you used to play with who got in trouble for gaming too much?

No, no, no. We used to play video games but we understood that we had to perform on the pitch, so everybody found the right time to play and not get into the game too much. We had a job to do on the pitch and that was always the priority for us.

Who was the best player at FIFA in the Manchester City dressing room?

We didn’t really play as it was a different mindset. I was only playing with Eliaquim Mangala because he was my closest friend at Manchester City. He was good and most of the times we played each other, he’d win about 60% of the time.

Onto the football, for you, who’s been Arsenal’s most important player in the title race?

Bukayo Saka. He’s a constant threat whenever he gets the ball, he’s looking to create and be his team’s most creative player. Of course, many of the players in Arsenal’s team deserve massive credit as they’ve been really solid but I believe the way that Bukayo has been improving, the way he’s been attacking, the way he’s been creating and scoring goals has been really important for the team.

Hopefully, he can stay injury free. He’s very young, he’s going to improve, he’s a brilliant player already and I believe he has the greatest impact in this current Arsenal team.

For you, where does Bukayo Saka rank amongst the best players in both the Premier League and Europe?

He’s been the best player in the Premier League this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Erling Haaland is crowned PFA Player of the Year but up until now, I don’t see any other player that’s had a bigger impact on their team than Bukayo. To have that consistency, game after game has been absolutely fantastic.

Arsenal are the favourites with the bookmakers to sign West Ham United captain Declan Rice. Do you believe Declan would come in as a certain starter at Arsenal considering the players already at the club in his position already? How highly do you rate Declan as a player?

Declan is a top, top player and he’s a key player for West Ham. He’s clearly a very good footballer, he’s a natural leader and has a lot of personality. Arsenal already has leaders in their team such as Granit Xhaka and Martin Ødegaard obviously, so all these players could play alongside each other. It’s a very exciting future for Arsenal and I believe Declan Rice would be a good signing for the club. 

Kieran Tierney is being linked with an exit from Arsenal with Newcastle United said to be heavily interested in the player. Do you believe Arsenal would regret selling Kieran in the long run or do you believe they should sell him for the £30 million fee that’s been rumoured?

He obviously hasn’t been doing amazing and this season the club have brought in Oleksandr Zinchenko, who’s become a key player in the team and in that left-back position. I think Zinchenko is here to stay for a long time, so Kieran is going to have to have a discussion with the club.

Arsenal are obviously aware of his quality but if Kieran wants to play more, then I’m not sure he’s going to get in ahead of Zinchenko. It will be his decision of course and he can still be a part of Arsenal’s squad but as a player, you always want to play more, so he will surely be asking to leave the club.

Another potential departure from Arsenal could be Emile Smith Rowe. Reports have suggested that Arsenal could be open to selling Smith Rowe this summer, but do you believe he’s a player that can still offer his club a lot going forward and can cement a place in Arsenal’s starting XI?

He’s been injured at times this season, but even when he’s fit I don’t believe he would be part of Arsenal’s starting eleven. However, he’s a good player and a loan move may be the most beneficial thing for him at the moment. It will give him some time to play and he won’t have to leave the club for good, so a loan move would be a wise option for him.

Mason Mount was left out of Chelsea’s squad to face Leicester on Saturday. He’s potentially set to leave the club this summer, and in your opinion, do you believe Arsenal should join your former club Manchester City, along with Manchester United and Liverpool, in the race to sign the England international?

I don’t see him playing ahead of any of the players in Arsenal’s starting eleven. I think he would purely be an addition and I don’t see him getting ahead of Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard or Gabriel Martinelli. I believe that Martinelli has more speed and more creativity and I don’t believe buying a player like Mason and putting him on the bench would be a good decision for the club.

They need to be smart and they need to bring in players that are content with sitting on the bench sometimes and being happy to share the time amongst the other players in their position. That’s what Manchester City do, but I’ve been at Manchester City and it wasn’t always easy wanting to play and being stuck on the bench. Does Mason have the mental qualities to come to Arsenal and sit on the bench? I’m not sure because I’m sure he’d want to play every week.

Which club do you believe Jude Bellingham should move to once he leaves Borussia Dortmund? He’s currently linked with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Which of those clubs do you believe will suit him best?

Real Madrid is the best option for him because there are players such as Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić who’re ageing, so there’s going to be space for Jude in their squad and the opportunity for him to make a statement.

He has the physical and technical ability to become one of the key players for Real Madrid. When Real Madrid calls you, you have to go. I think he’s more likely to go to Real Madrid rather than return to England.

Despite his mighty impressive goal haul, there are still people who claim that Erling Haaland doesn’t suit Manchester City’s style of play. Do you believe that Erling has a negative impact on how Manchester City play as a whole?

It’s nonsense. All the teams in the Premier League are aware of how good Erling is and they’re all trying to find a way to stop him. He’s having a very positive impact at Manchester City and that’s been proven by how many goals he’s scored. 

The reason why they’re second in the league is that they committed a few mistakes at the beginning of the season and they’ve lost games that they shouldn’t be losing, such as Brentford at home and Liverpool away when João Cancelo made the mistake for Salah’s goal.

They were making mistakes that they didn’t make last season. This is a team that always has the ball and sometimes when you have a lot of the ball, you’re going to get hit on the counterattack and concede a goal.

Manchester City is still one of the best teams in the world, so I’m not worried for them and I’m especially not worried for Erling Haaland because he’s been doing amazing.

France international Eduardo Camavinga is being linked with a move to Manchester United, with United being said to offer Real Madrid £115 million for the midfielder. Do you think he deserves more gametime at Real Madrid and do you believe he is a player that’s suited to Premier League football?

He certainly has the quality to start more games for Real Madrid. Sometimes it’s not about how good you are, it’s about what you can bring to the squad.

Sometimes your coach may believe in someone more than they believe in you and I’m sure he would play more if he went to somewhere like Manchester United due to his quality and the players that they have there at the moment. He would suit that team perfectly and I could see him starting alongside Casemiro.

For more gaming and football conversations with Premier League icons, be sure to check out our discussion with Glen Johnson about gaming during major tournaments.