Of all the transfer stories linked to Arsenal, the dominant one is Cesc Fabregas, the former “talismanic” midfielder and club captain whom we sold to Barcelona in 2011 for £35m. A move that was instigated by the players’ desire to return to his “childhood club”. A move that was hugely disappointing for the fans, but mostly accepted with understanding due to clearly heartfelt expressions of gratitude to Wenger – his “second father”, sadness at leaving the Emirates and commitment to return (to watch). He was almost in tears. I say mostly, because there was a sizeable contingent who considered it pretty bad form for the club captain to force the club to sell him when he was entering the last year of his contract.
So how has in gone at Barcelona? Well, it certainly started well with 9 goals in 14 La Liga appearances, but tailed off with no further goals in the remaining 15 appearances in that first season. Since then, he’s averaged 10 goals & 15 assists per season which, in the advanced positions Barca have played him, isn’t stellar. He has never really fitted into the Barca system and hasn’t bettered the 15 goals and 16 assists for Arsenal in 2009/10. After adding Neymar to their squad, Barca fans have been shocked to lose their La Liga title to Atletico Madrid, after cruising home by 15 points last year, and they have made Fabregas – who has never been particularly popular – the scapegoat. In a recent poll 77% of fans would like him to be sold.
The fans have spoken, but are Barca willing to sell Fabregas? Well the press report that they are “prepared to listen to offers”, so I’d say that’s a yes. It’s just about the price. And of course the player himself. He has a contract until 2016, so he has to agree to any move. Cesc hasn’t made any public comment suggesting he wishes to leave, but the fans poll and the booing must have an effect.
Notwithstanding that he said in December 2011 “Apart from Arsenal and Barcelona, I don’t see myself playing anywhere else”, I think time may have eroded that loyalty somewhat and money (wages) will talk. There is however the matter of the buy-back clause Arsenal inserted into the transfer agreement. The terms of that clause have been variously reported, but I doubt Barcelona would have accepted the possibility of losing him for £25m as suggested by some sources. The most likely version in my opinion is that Arsenal have first refusal, and can buy him by matching the bid received by Barcelona. So he could return to Arsenal IF he still wants to leave, and IF Arsenal value him similarly to Man U, Man C etc.
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Should Arsenal try to re-sign him? There are plenty who will point out that there are higher priorities to address than adding “another creative midfielder”, but here are my reasons why the answer is yes;
1. Re: priorities – it isn’t “either / or”
2. Despite current depth in the area, we still fell away due to injuries to midfielders this season
3. He will fit into our system seamlessly
4. His experience – He’s a world cup and double Euro winner
5. He’s Cesc bl**dy Fabregas!
Of course the caveat is “but not at any price”. Although the possibility of him appearing against us for a Manchester club must also be a consideration. I’d like to think Cesc would just say no to any PL club other than Arsenal but RvP, N$sri, Clichy and Sagna have undermined that belief. So if a massive bid is submitted for him, let’s just hope it comes from PSG or Monaco.