When Arsenal signed Cesc Fabregas back in 2003, he left Barcelona as somewhat of a reject. Not good enough to make it at the Catalan club. Expendable.
Arsène Wenger saw in him what Frank Rijkaard did not. The potential to be a big player. And he was right. At his peak at Arsenal, Fabregas was about as big as they come. Arsenal gave him the chance to become the player Rijkaard never dreamed of.
But truthfully, Arsenal was never more than a means to an end for Cesc. He came to North London, blossomed under Arsène and became a club hero. Then he got the move he ultimately wanted. He went back to Barcelona.
It wasn’t easy. Barcelona tapped him up for a number of years with Iniesta, Piqué and Xavi all openly declaring their hopes for Cesc to return ‘home’. Xavi infamously said: “I especially hope that Cesc comes home. He is a football player with Barca DNA and he is showing at Arsenal that he is on another level.”
After a number of rejected bids and Barcelona player disrespectfully willing him to return (not to mention the incident with the Barcelona shirt at the 2010 World Cup) it finally happened and Arsenal hearts broke all over the country.
It must have been especially hard for Arsène, who so often puts his trust in players who later throw it back at him. He had to watch the world-class player he had forged climb aboard a plane and fly back to the club who didn’t want him. The club who didn’t want to put in the work. The club who used Arsenal and exploited the very manager Cesc claimed to ‘owe everything to.’
Now let us fast-forward three years. Cesc has won a number of honours with Barcelona, most notably La Liga in 2012/13 and the Copa Del Rey in 2012. But, since then, his time at Camp Nou has turned sour.
With Barcelona falling below their astronomically high standards, he has been criticised in the press and booed by his own fans and none of the teammates who so desperately wanted him have stuck up for him. Piqué did take to the press to say that “all the players should be blamed, not just Cesc,” but that is the extent of his defence.
Then it surfaced that after years of speculation surrounding a return to Arsenal, Fabregas was no longer wanted at Barcelona and he was official up for grabs. His first choice, naturally, was Arsenal. Things hadn’t worked out as well as he had hoped at Barcelona. He had left fans at Arsenal who adored him and moved to a club where, to the fans, he was just as expandable as he was to Rijkaard.
Whether or not he expected to simply waltz back in to the Arsenal dressing room, it wasn’t to be. To any rational Arsenal fan, it is obvious that we don’t need him. Though, that said, we have to secure all our transfer targets to now justify not re-signing him. Should we reach the end of the window without bringing in another central midfielder, it will look like quite a baffling decision to reject him.
What Arsenal need is a strong, defensive midfielder, not another playmaker. With Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla, the ‘creativity department’ is well stocked. In particular, Özil is in need of pacey players that he can feed balls through to. That is where his power lies. By signing Cesc Fabregas, who is essentially the same player, Özil’s influence on games would be reduced further.
There was a part of me that thought Wenger might not be able to pass up the opportunity to sign Cesc. After all, he invested eight years of his time in to developing him and turning him in to a world-class player and he has an emotional attachment to him, as he does with all of his players. It is refreshing to see Arsène close that door once and for all and to my surprise, I’m not all that bothered by the sight of Fabregas in a Chelsea shirt.
After a long time building a team and eventually ending a nine-year trophy drought, the boss clearly has his transfer targets in place and can look past signing a player who is understood to have demanded ‘obscene’ wages.
Cesc Fabregas can finally be let go by those Arsenal fans that seemed to hang on to his claim that he would never play for another team in England. The transfer window isn’t even open yet, meaning a meltdown over transfers at this point would be futile.
If Arsène has turned down Fabregas, it is because he has a plan. The red mist may have once again descended over the eyes of the Wenger Out Brigade, but give him time. He’s got a busy summer ahead.