The Libero - Why Arsenal should let Fabregas go
Published: 21 Jul 2010 - 07:16:25
There's always one, isn't there? One transfer story that runs and runs all summer long, keeping the back pages filled throughout the off-season - and sometimes beyond - until the hunters finally catch their prey and invariably focus turns onto the next target.
This time around it's the future of Cesc Fabregas that has got everyone talking, as Barcelona relentlessly pursue the local boy they let go from their youth academy at the tender age of 16.
Considering that big name players are habitually linked with summer moves - and that we've seen this one coming for a while - the chase for the Arsenal midfielder during this transfer window is hardly surprising.
It has become de rigour to see the coaches such as Pep Guardiola and club presidents like Sandro Rosell making public their desire to lure a player to their club. It may be borderline illegal, but the truth is we see tapping up all the time in one form or another and rarely is anything done about it.
But the way Barcelona have gone about their 'business' this time marks out their chase of Fabregas from other pursuits: the sheer number of Barca's playing staff who have been willing to come out in support of a move for the player.
Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, among others, have all publically voiced their excitement at the prospect of having him in their ranks next season. Fabregas must be a popular guy back at home, but should players be voicing their feelings so clearly about a deal which, at the end, of the day, they have no control over?
They even went as far as forcing a Blaugrana shirt onto the Arsenal player as Spain celebrated their World Cup triumph. It was a bit of an underhand move, given how many cameras were trained on them and considering that Fabregas was left feeling a trifle embarrassed by it all.
Yet seemingly their tactics, which could easily be construed as bullying, are working. Fabregas has indicated he wants to go and there is now a real sense of inevitability to his ultimate departure, despite the best efforts of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
So, if the player himself is ready to start a new chapter in his career and there is a club desperate to offer him that chance, why not just let him go?
Fabregas may claim his heart is still with Arsenal - he even, weirdly, dedicated Spain's World Cup triumph to his club - but if he has already decided in his head that he is moving on, if not this summer, then the next, how can he be fully focused on the Gunners' upcoming domestic and European campaigns?
The answer is, he cannot. Surely Wenger does not want such a player on his books?
Fabregas has undoubtedly been a loyal servant for the Gunners and he can rightly be classed as one of the club's all-time great players, but all good things come to an end sooner or later, and so too must his relationship with Arsenal.
The question is when? Now, when he wants to leave and when the club can profit by the tune of £40 million? Or a couple of years down the line when his stock is not quite so high?
There is a real case for Wenger to cash in on Fabregas now. At the moment he is a player at the top of his game, and can justifiably claim to be worth such a huge sum.
But what happens if he gets injured next season? A campaign spent on the treatment table will be of no use to Arsenal, either in terms of their hopes of winning trophies or maximising the player's value once he does eventually leave.
Fabregas has taken Arsenal as far as he can and now seems to be a natural time to part ways. The Gunners suffered a poor season last time out, even with Fabregas in the side, and it is unlikely that another campaign at the Emirates will reap much benefit.
Far better that Wenger accedes to the player's - and Barcelona's - wishes and spends the £40m on injecting some new blood into his squad. After all, that kind of amount can go a long way, especially for someone as shrew in the market as Wenger.
Realistically, Wenger could trade Fabregas in for three top class players, including Yoann Gourcuff, who would be an ideal, ready-made replacement.
Gourcuff may not have made the grade at Milan, but he is an exceptionally talented player and at Bordeaux has improved hugely under the guidance of Laurent Blanc. He's a typical Wenger player - stylish, comfortable on the ball and with an eye for goal. And he's French, which always helps at the Emirates.
Then there is Marouane Chamakh, his great friend and former Bordeaux team-mate who, after a transfer saga nearly as long as that of this blog's title, moved to Arsenal earlier this summer. The pair had an incredible understanding on the pitch at the Stade Chaban Delmas that, if successfully replicated across the Channel, could be the key to Arsenal's post-Fabregas regeneration.
Indeed, with another two players on board, the departure of Fabregas, like the man he replaced in the engine room of the Arsenal team Patrick Vieira, will surely soon be forgotten.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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