You put consistency above all else when you voted Gael Clichy second in's Player of the Season poll. The Frenchman barely put a foot wrong during 2007/08 and, as a result, received nearly 25 per cent of the ballot. editor Richard Clarke gives his thoughts on the Premiership's best uncapped player.
Two Fridays ago, Roma manager Luciano Spalletti was reported as saying: "It would please me a great deal to see Gael Clichy in a Roma shirt. We will have to wait and see what develops."

Little did he know that, at about the same time, the finishing touches were being put to the press release announcing the 22-year-old was committing his future to Emirates Stadium.

Of course, Clichy had no control over this little scenario but the way it played out was typical of his Arsenal career so far - unfussy, committed and professional.

Left back is hardly a marquee position but the Frenchman has made it as eye-catching as possible. He surges forwards at every opportunity but is rarely beaten at the back. He is slightly built but hardly ever seems to be muscled off the ball. He is committed and determined but never shows petulance.

In a world of 24/7 football coverage, it is easy for the quotable, 'look-at-me' players to take all the attention. Clichy is the opposite of that (though he does give an intelligent interview) so it is a testament to his quiet competence that the Frenchman is now getting his fair share of the plaudits. 

Speaking at the end of the campaign after Clichy had been voted into the PFA Premier League Team, Arsène Wenger said the defender's main achievement last season had been to remain injury-free. It was an interesting comment.

The former Cannes man featured in 49 games, including every match in the Champions League and Premier League. That was more than any other Arsenal player. He had made himself an automatic selection in the left back position, like Nigel Winterburn, Ashley Cole and Kenny Sansom did in previous decades. And that is very good company.

Yet Wenger's point was valid. If you remember, Clichy was still out with a long-term injury when Cole was sold in August 2006. Justin Hoyte and William Gallas filled in until he returned.

Therefore this was his first full season as first choice in his position and he used it to make a giant step forward.

Both Clichy and Cole had been absent for much of the 2006/07 campaign. But before that, the Englishman had been considered the world's best in his position. Now you could start building a case for Clichy.

That said, he may be the best left back in the Premier League, but he still seems to be the third best in France. Somehow Eric Abidal and Patrice Evra were named ahead of him for Euro 2008.

After the team's abject performance this summer, wholesale changes are expected and so finally Clichy could be set for a full debut.

Should that come, inevitably there will be a learning curve in the international game. He has certainly gone through that with Arsenal over the past 18 months.

Perversely, his errors have been memorable; the kind of thing worth making a mental note about given their rarity. Both came in away games - Birmingham and Manchester City - and allowed the home teams to equalise.

At 22, this sort of thing is inevitable. The key is to recover and Clichy's level did not drop in the games to follow.

The first game of next season will see Clichy bring up his Premier League century. He has a total of 146 matches under his belt already and, pre-supposing his form and fitness are maintained over the next few years, he could be overtaking some very famous Arsenal names in the appearance tables during the years to come. Considered, courteous and articulate, he also had the potential to captain the side.

In many ways, Clichy is the model footballer and I think he'll be genuinely touched to be thought of so highly by the Arsenal supporters.

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30 Jun 2008