We all knew it was going to happen. After the initial news that Cesc Fabregas would be leaving Barcelona after a three-year stint, it wasn’t long after until he started being heavily linked to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Surely not, we all said. Then, our nightmares became reality as it became apparent that we rejected the chance to bring back our former captain and would resultantly see our much adored Fabregas wearing Chelsea blue next season.
Despite it being clear it was coming, it still hit hard. In the back of our minds we all hoped this was just a big wind-up and that Fabregas would be returning to the Emirates. I was one of those people praying that was the case. When the news came through I felt sick right to my core. This, for me, hurt more than Van Persie and Adebayor. Worse than Samir Nasri, comparable to Ashley Cole. If I was young, I probably would’ve cried.
The difficulty for me is that I adore Fabregas. I always have done and it’s likely I always will do. While I will not be necessarily supporting him by any stretch of the imagination, I still rate him very highly. As much as I’d like to hate him, I can’t. Many moons ago, when Fabregas was tearing up the Emirates turf, he was my favourite player. I remember his individual goal against Spurs, his penalty against Barcelona. I was thrilled when my mother returned from a charity auction with a signed canvas of Fabregas celebrating in front of the Emirates crowd.
Those memories won’t go and nor will my image. He may be at our arch-rivals now, under the management of Jose Mourinho and yes, I couldn’t think of anything worse. That doesn’t change what he did at our club though. Football teams change, they adapt. The crest changes, stadiums change, managers change and players constantly change. That will not change the support we have for the club and it will not erase my fond memories for Fabregas.
For me, Cesc Fabregas optimises everything we currently love about our great club. He isn’t North London born but, to some extent, he is raised there. On the pitch, this is definitely the case. We poached a young player from Fabregas, who in reality would’ve suffered in Catalonia should he have stayed there. Wenger crafted the player into the world beater we see today. When Patrick Vieira left the club for Juventus, Fabregas stepped up and made the number four shirt is own. When Thierry henry departed for Barcelona, he did the same with the armband.
Whether he likes it or not, Cesc Fabregas will always have Arsenal running through his veins. In a way, that eases the blow a little bit that he’s at Stamford Bridge, as they will be celebrating and idolising a player we made. I’m also fairly confident we had Cesc at his best years and, at the end of the day, he’s an Arsenal reject. Whether you agree or not, we turned Fabregas down and Chelsea got our sloppy seconds. Chelsea fans will celebrate and gloat but the fact of the matter is, if we wanted him we would have gotten him. Fabregas essentially said that himself when he commented on his new move. ‘It wasn’t to be’- translates to “I wanted to but the club have moved on and didn’t want me back.”
Did I want Fabregas back? Absolutely, but yet I’m not angry that we rejected the chance to sign him. The reason I wanted him was for purely selfish reasons. I wanted him for his memories, not for what he offers today. Look at the midfield we have and tell me where he would fit in? You may say as a deep-lying playmaker, or a false 9, but then you’re paying £30m to play someone out of position.
The other argument is that we could use the squad depth. I agree, but then you’re paying £30m for a player to sit on the bench, or you’re dropping one of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil or the rest. Do we want that? Not at all. We would’ve been signing Fabregas simply because we could and as a result, would be decreasing our ability to purchase top players in other areas. We’re reported to have around £80m to spend, so we would’ve been spending almost half of our budget on a player we did not need and could not allocate a position too.
The deal taking Fabregas to Chelsea also gives us £5m more to spend in the market and though that does not sound like a lot, it does make a difference. £20m is a fairly standard price to pay these days but £25m gets a higher class player. To put it into perspective, £20m would get Alvaro Morata outright, £25m could get Jackson Martinez. No brainer.
Do not look at our transfer activity based on this own piece of business, which ultimately didn’t even involve us. When the window ends, look at what we’ve got and assess the situation then. I assure you, I firmly believe we won’t be questioning the motive to not sign Fabregas at that stage. If we don’t strengthen in the other areas, then we start to ask questions- but there’s still a long time to go.
For all we know, the next big thing could be about to explode onto the world stage at the World Cup. Imagine our joy if we got them, then imagine our horror if we missed out on them because we’d spent a large chunk of cash brining Fabregas back to the Emirates.
Yes I’m gutted, yes I’ll hate seeing Fabregas in Chelsea blue- but I don’t hate him, I’m not angry with Wenger or the board. I firmly believe the right decision was made and now is the time to continue making right decisions by delving into the market to strengthen areas where we currently lack- Fabregas would not have done that.