It’s been a weird season at the Camp Nou. Despite cantering to the la Liga title, there’s rumblings of a clear out among the Blaugrana squad. Crushing defeats by Bayern Munich exposed a lack of flexibility in the Barca way of doing things, so this summer, a severe shake up of the playing staff is on the cards. There’ll be a few high profile casualties – among the Barca players, who isn’t in that category, and one of them has been linked with a return to the Premier League. Former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas may be leaving the Camp Nou and heading to England for a second time. But to which club?
The heart-string answer would be to Arsenal. Back at the emirates, the Gooners still get misty-eyed when talking of the performances of Cesc, and now with Champions’ League football secured, the Arsenal call could be very tempting. Despite leaving his homeland, returning to the fold under Wenger’s wing would be very much a homecoming for the Catalan. The player was always one of the Arsenal manager’s special players. The ‘go to guy.’ The leader. The inspirational playmaker. He epitomized everything that Wenger looks for in a player. It’s probably true to say that losing his skipper was a particularly cruel blow to the Frenchman, but the lure of Barcelona had got into Fabregas, and the inevitable, was very much, just inevitable. To have him return however would not just be gaining an invaluable playing asset, it would also be a sign that Arsenal can and should be a home to Europe’s top players. As is often the case with such romantic stories however, there is a complication.
‘Never go back’ they say. It can never be as good the second time around, and that is perhaps why Manchester United think that they may have a chance of snatching Fabregas from the welcoming arms of Arsenal. With new manager David Moyes sidling into Sir Alex Ferguson’s chair, there’ll be a few changes in the offing at Old Trafford. With Wayne Rooney apparently keen to follow his ex-manager out of the door, a photo-fit replacement – of only in terms of playing technique rather than appearance – is required. Put that together with the fact that the foil for this position’s occupant would be no other than another former Gunner – Robin van Persie – and you can see the pieces dropping into place.
Although Arsenal can offer Champions’ League football, United have the extra attraction of actually being able to compete for the trophy itself. And of course, they are serial trophy winners. It’s an act that Arsenal have found so difficult to follow of late. For Moyes, anxious to both apply his own touch, but without tearing up Ferguson’s so successful blueprint, replacing Rooney with Fabregas would be an ideal scenario, should the Scouser’s wanderlust finally take him away from Old Trafford. If Barca decide to call time on Fabregas’s return, he may have an interesting choice to make.