Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger this morning confirmed that the club would not be seeking to trigger their first option rights on Spain and Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, prompting a massive backlash from most corners of the Gunners supporters circle. The dream of his return to the Emirates has been squashed, and truthfully, it is for the better.
“He already told me it’s done. He is leaving for 33million euros” – Gerard Pique
In a press conference yesterday for the Spanish national team, Gerard Pique was heard over the microphone speaking to coach Vicente Del Bosque about Fabregas’ impending move back to the Premier League. Confirmation today that Arsenal will not be making a move has lead to wide speculation that his destination will be Chelsea, though both Manchester City and Manchester United have also been rumored to be interested.
Chelsea have just parted ways with club legend Frank Lampard, United have never properly replaced Paul Scholes and City are looking to solidify their place at the top of the Premier League hierarchy. Unfortunately for Arsenal supporters, they will have to come to terms with the fact that the Gunners have other priorities this summer, and the return of Fabregas is not one of them.
Just six months ago, and maybe even more recently than that, I can recall countless Arsenal supporters crying out for the club to finally bring in a defensive midfielder worthy of the vacancy left by Patrick Vieira, a striker that is world class and depth on the wings. The departure of Bacary Sagna to Manchester City now thrusts Arsenal into the market for a right-back, and finally the release of Lukas Fabianski and his signing with Swansea City mean Arsenal need to properly address five other positions, so why are Arsenal fans obsessed with bringing back a player they do not need?
It is hard to debate against the notion that a Fabregas return to north London gives Arsenal very strong depth in central midfield, but the problem here is that Arsenal are by no means short of creative players, they need a midfield destroyer. Currently, Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Mathieu Flamini on the books as players that are used in central midfield – only one of them, Flamini, is a true defensive midfielder. Despite Arteta routinely being deployed as one, it is not his true position and he has been exposed countless times because of it. Flamini had a decent season, but he is not someone who you can expect to remain at that level, after all, he was deemed surplus to requirements at AC Milan.
Let us argue for a minute that Arsenal did bring Fabregas back – how would you deploy him? To bring him back to the Emirates lends to the fact that you would have to find room for him in the starting XI. The first option would be to play him along side Ramsey in central midfield – a deadly combination no doubt, but where would the cover for the back-line then be? Both players love to get forward and dictate proceedings there but that would be more of a detriment than a step forward.
Cesc Fabregas performance data for the 2013/2014 season – 13 goals and 22 assists in 55 total appearances from either attacking midfield or central midfield
You could then argue that you would rotate Fabregas and Ramsey along side a defensive player – okay, and where does that leave Ramsey? Despite his injury this season, Ramsey was far and away Arsenal’s best player and he is on the brink of a complete break out in his career and on track to become one of the Premier League’s brightest. Would you really sacrifice that all for a Fabregas return? Ramsey is at the point in his career where he must be a key cog in the Arsenal wheel, not splitting time with someone who is identical to him when it comes to footballing DNA.
Truth be told, bringing Fabregas back to Arsenal would actually cause more harm than good, and it is actually impressive that Wenger is refusing a move for the player, despite his personal relationship with him. The club need to strengthen elsewhere in the right ways if they are looking to build on their FA Cup success, and a deal for Fabregas would only be a hindrance.
There have been plenty of Arsenal faithful who have gone so far as to say that the club need to bring in the player simply so other clubs do not have him on their books. At that point, for a supporters group that pride themselves on “not being like Chelsea”, that sounds an awful lot like a move that the Blues would make. Considering football in England has become akin to the cold-war in regards to player personnel, it is admirable that Arsenal try their best to remain outside that realm of dealings. The notion that fans would then go against their own principles (and the clubs) for the sake of nostalgia seems rather foolish indeed.
What’s more, is how quickly Arsenal supporters have forgotten that Fabregas himself engineered a move back to Barcelona at a crucial point in his career at the club. The fans love to rag on a player such as Robin van Persie and the like for their departure, but will excuse Fabregas to the point of welcoming him back with open arms – sometimes it must make you wonder how more people do not realize how fickle football supporters truly can be.
The worst part of this entire situation, is the inevitable hatred that will swing towards the Spaniard. You already see Gooners saying they will never forgive him if he goes to Chelsea, United or City and not Arsenal – did they somehow forget that the club is responsible for not making a move for him? Unless they fully expect him to sit idly by in his home in Catalonia, twiddle his thumbs and not move to another club simply because he used to play for Arsenal is absolutely ridiculous. Like it or not, he is a professional athlete and despite his passion for the club and his fantastic days there as a player, he is still a footballer who has his own career to worry about, and at the end of the day, he does not owe Arsenal anything.
At the end of the day, Fabregas will do right by him in regards to his career, and Arsenal are seemingly on the right track by doing what is right for the club by way of keeping their eye on their priorities – it is time for the supporters to do the same.