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Cesc Fabregas out... but who's coming in at Arsenal?
Published : 20 May 2010 07:13:13
The end of an era is very nearly upon us. Arsenal's talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas looks set to move back to Barcelona - leaving a gaping hole in the Gunners' midfield. Fabregas scored 50 goals in 269 games during his seven years in north London - but his sphere of influence on the pitch stretched further than just goals. The driving force at the heart of Arsene Wenger's young side, the creative catalyst and often the difference between Arsenal winning and losing. Team-mates? Fabregas could be lining up against his old friend Messi next season But the lure of a move home, to the club where he started his career, has proven to tempting an opportunity to pass up. He has the chance to add championship titles and European glory to his miserly record of just one FA Cup winners medal at Arsenal - which he won back in 2005. So, who's going to replace him? Sportsmail takes a look at the Fab Five who could fill his boots Wesley SneijderAge: 25 Nationality: Dutch Club: Inter Milan Cost: £35m A revelation in this season's Champions League, Sneijder seems a perfect fit for the outgoing Fabregas. The Holland international has been the driving force behind Inter's European challenge - dictating midfield with skill and a passing style much in keeping with the Arsenal's. And with Jose Mourinho's future anything but settled now could be the ideal time to prise him away from the San Siro. Arsenal-bound? Sneijder has been in fabulous form with Inter this year Mikel Arteta Age: 28 Nationality: Spanish Club: Everton Cost: £25m A name often linked with a move to the Emirates and a player Wenger admires - Arteta has just enjoyed yet another fine season with Everton. After 10 months out with a knee ligament injury, Arteta returned to invigorate the Toffees' season. A year which looked certain to end in a relegation scrap finished with David Moyes' team just outside the European spots - thanks, in main, to the Spaniard. Technically very gifted, tough in the battle and, crucially, he has bags of Premier League experience. Sticky position: Would Arsenal be able to prise Arteta away from Toffees Luka Modric Age: 24 Nationality: Croatian Club: Tottenham Cost £30m Revitalised at Tottenham since the arrival of Harry Redknapp, the Croatian has been described as the one 'world class player' at the club by his manager. A tireless worker who is happier playing in an advanced role but two factors would hamper any potential move down the Seven Sisters road to the Emirates. Tottenham are highly unlikely to sanction any move for another of their stars to the Gunners and Spurs' Champions League qualification is sure to satisfy the Croatian's ambitions. For now. Contentious move: Modric would fit in but would Spurs let him leave Yoann GourcuffAge: 23 Nationality: French Club: Bordeaux Cost: £25m Another player to have flourished in this season's Champions League, Gourcuff has attracted the attention of a number of Europe's elite. The Bordeaux playmaker was instrumental as his team won through to the quarter-finals but the club fell short in the league - finishing sixth. And with Les Girondins' manager Laurent Blanc primed to replace Raymond Domenech as the France national coach after the World Cup, the Gunners have a great opportunity to steal in. Hot property: Gourcuff is being chased by Europe's elite clubs Eden HazardAge: 19 Nationality: Belgium Club: Lille Cost: £25m Currently being tracked by all of Europe's big club's but the pacy Belgium international has made it clear he will only leave Lille for one of two clubs. And it's good news for Arsenal, Hazard said in an interview in April: 'If one day I leave Lille, I will go to Real or Arsenal.' Of the options in front of him, Wenger will definitely see Hazard as the best fit for Arsenal but may opt for a player with more experience. No danger: Hazard has made it clear he favours a move to Arsenal P.S. What about Jack Wilshere?When Cesc first came on to the scene Arsenal's midfield was dominated by giants such as Patrick Vieira and Gilberto. And now Arsenal have a like-for-like replacement in Wilshere who has enjoyed an excellent spell on loan with Bolton the season. He surely deserves a chance. Cesc is going home to Barcelona: all that's left is for Arsenal to agree a fee Barca promise to respect Arsenal - as they step up bid to take Fabregas homeCesc Fabregas Barcelona deal hit by Yaya Toure snubbing Arsenal for better offers - as Manchester City eye IvorianARSENAL FC