The end of Fabregate?


by Ifreke Inyang

This might just be the summer – the off-season when Arsenal’s midfield conductor, Cesc Fabregas returns home to Catalonia. Barcelona and Arsenal were locked in talks on Wednesday over Fabregas, with the European champions increasingly confident they can agree a deal worth around £35 million. Although a new bid was not formally tabled, Barcelona were back in contact with Arsenal following their rejection last week of a £27 million offer. The talks on Wednesday were understood to be productive and, while there remains some difference in the valuations, there is a mounting sense that this most protracted transfer saga is finally nearing an end. Barcelona have increased their valuation of Fabregas to almost £35 million, with Arsenal believed to be holding out for a deal that, with add-ons, they can present to their fans as more like £40 million.

With Barcelona triumphing in Europe yet again, many would think that the Catalan giants would not need to make any new signings, or changes to such a supreme squad. However, for a second successive year rumours about Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas have surfaced. The Spanish midfielder and former Barca boy has certainly proved himself to be one of the best players in the world. All the hype over the move kicked off last year after post World Cup celebrations where Spanish team members and Barcelona defenders Carlos Puyol and Gerrard Pique placed a Barcelona jersey on Fabregas. Although Fabregas claimed it to be a joke, he was quoted as saying that “he would love to play for Barcelona one day” further adding to the speculation.

Last season Barcelona were told by Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger that Fabregas was not for sale under any circumstances. Arsenal were able to hold onto their playmaker, but went on to once again fail in winning any silverware. With Fabregas and Arsenal once again without any trophies, it would seem that the number 4 is on the verge of leaving. And after a not too bright season even by his lofty standards, it seems the time is nigh.

Cesc Fabregas has played with injury and pain and has made his best efforts to conquer trophies with Arsenal. The captain has been inspirational for the Gunners on several occasions in the past but he is not a natural leader and his captaincy has come under the scanner many times this season after their spectacular collapses against Tottenham and Newcastle. Though there are many critics who have criticised him for his leadership, his presence on the pitch for the Gunners has been sorely missed in the last few weeks.

The Spanish midfielder is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders in the world and has been arguably Arsenal’s most influential player in recent seasons. Fabregas is the creative hub around which the team revolves and his presence in midfield allows more freedom for Jack Wilshere who has established a brilliant understanding with him. Though he has developed into a world class player at Arsenal, the lack of trophies at the club has frustrated him.

Though Fabregas has a long term contract with Arsenal, it is likely that he would move from Arsenal before the end of the contract. The Gunners will find it extremely tough to persuade their captain to stay if he does want a move from the Emirates. Wenger is a manager, who does not like to hold on to unhappy players in the squad. Though replacing a midfielder of his calibre is extremely difficult, Arsenal have two excellent youngsters in Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere who have an important role to play in the long term future of the club. Ramsey has completely recovered from his long term injury and could still play an important role in the title run-in this year. Wilshere has been the revelation of the season without a doubt and has cemented his place in the starting 11 with excellent performances throughout the season.

Arsenal could manage to sign an experienced attacking midfielder for less than half the money obtained from Fabregas while they could also strengthen their team with an experienced Premiership defender and a defensive midfielder to provide depth to the squad. The money which will be around the fee paid by Chelsea to obtain Fernando Torres could be utilised to bring a number of quality players to the club. However, if Arsene Wenger decides to invest the money in the Arsenal savings account, the trophy cabinet is certain to remain empty. He must replace the outgoing Fabregas with a quality midfielder for Arsenal to challenge for trophies next season. The decision on if to sell Fabregas, in my opinion has always been about one factor: the money Barca offer.

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