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Why Fabregas is a Gooner, not a goner

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Matt Slater | 14:50 UK time, Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, Steven Gerrard to Chelsea, Matt Harrold to Southend United...every summer has its transfer saga and 2010's is Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas's apparent desire to make a return trip to Barcelona.

The fight for Fab has all the hallmarks of classic tabloid-fodder: "come get me" pleas, "hands off" responses and almost daily utterances from agents, friends and would-be teammates.

But reading much into any of these would be a big mistake: where Fabregas plays next season will boil down to cold, hard cash.

Or to put it another way, can Barca prise their man away from a "seller" who would rather have the player than the money?

To answer this we need to look at the finances, squads and prospects of the two clubs, but when push comes to shove it will be the finances that have the biggest say.

At first glance there is little between the two as businesses. The latest report into European football by the accountancy firm Deloitte has Barca second in its rich list, with Arsenal fourth, while US business magazine Forbes ranks Arsenal third, with Barca fourth.

Cesc Fabregas and Barca star Lionel MessiFabregas suffered a season-ending injury in the 2-2 draw against Barca - was that his last outing for the club?

Much of a muchness, then, but closer inspection does throw up some important differences.

Generally speaking, Arsenal have spent the last few years operating under the burden of paying for a new home. To fund that move the Gunners took out a big mortgage, got into property development and kept a lid on manager Arsene Wenger's spending.

The downside of this has been five trophy-less years, some nervous moments as property prices tanked and the millstone of being stuck with long-term commercial deals they had to make in a hurry.

The upside is that Wenger (perhaps the best qualified man in football for this job) has kept the team competitive, Arsenal's property investments are about to bear fruit and the club is the proud owner of a fantastic stadium that should deliver market-leading revenues for years to come.

Barca's fanbase and on-field success should also bring mega match-day revenues but to do that they will need a newer Nou Camp. This has been identified by Sandro Rosell, the man who replaces Joan Laporta as Barca's president on 1 July (more on him later).

The Catalan giants score more highly with their commercial and broadcasting income.

In regard to the former, they earn the kind of cash Arsenal would like to bring in as soon as they can renegotiate their retail and sponsorship deals. And Barca do it despite paying Unicef to appear on their shirts, not the other way around.

The TV deal is more controversial, though, as it is of enormous benefit to Barca (and the other half of the Spanish football duopoly, Real Madrid) but great detriment to the rest of La Liga.

Unlike the Premier League, there is no collective selling of media rights in Spain. This means Barca and Real earn four times what the next most valuable contract brings in and almost twice as much as Arsenal. Is this good for the game in Spain? Many think not.

Where things get even more contentious is the issue of debt.

Give or take a few quid, Arsenal's only debt is the Emirates mortgage. This costs the club about £20m a year and runs until 2031. It is, for a business of this size, entirely affordable.

The picture in Catalonia, however, is less transparent and one of the most interesting aspects of the presidential race was how Barca's debt became an election issue.

On the one hand you had the numbers presented by the current regime (great revenues, almost no debt), and on the other you had the numbers claimed by Rosell (decent revenues, lots of debt). The distance between these positions was almost £400m. Somebody must be wrong, right?

Well, no, not really. Laporta's figure is a £25m loan from La Caixa, the state-owned bank that sponsors the club. As they are two of Catalonia's most important institutions, there is little chance of this being called in any time soon.

Rosell's £417m total, however, is made up of all of Barca's potential liabilities, including £12m of transfer instalments to Arsenal for Thierry Henry and Alexander Hleb.

New Barca president Sandro RosellNew Barca president Sandro Rosell has hinted that the Catalan club might not be able to afford Fabregas

But is this really debt? Apparently it depends on which accountant you ask.

One will say Laporta is right to include only bank IOUs - everything else is just the cost of doing business and perfect-storm scenarios not worth worrying about. Another will say a debt is anything you owe somebody else.

For more on this I recommend this blog by football finance expert the Swiss Rambler - a fascinating read.

The real issue, however, is why the two camps would downplay/talk up the debt and what this means for Barca's summer spending plans. Followers of British politics will recognise the tactics.

Laporta, keen to pursue his own ambitions in regional politics after seven years at Barca, did not stand in this month's election. But he did anoint a successor, Jaume Ferrer, and he campaigned on a "more of the same" ticket.

That did not go down well with the members, though. The "socios" gave Rosell, a former vice-president who fell out with Laporta in 2005, a record mandate. Ferrer came last, which seems harsh given the team's performance over the last two seasons.

The voters clearly responded to Rosell's criticism of last summer's spending spree (Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, Maxwell and Keirrison) and his plans to redevelop the Nou Camp.

They may also have agreed with his comments about Barca's increasingly cosmopolitan youth ranks losing their Catalan identity, which brings us neatly back to the one who got away.

Repatriating Fabregas, who left at 16 when first-team chances seemed limited, was a policy all candidates agreed on, although it would be fair to say it was more prominent on Ferrer's manifesto than Rosell's.

Listening to Laporta in recent weeks it would seem Fabregas is a done deal and Arsenal are simply haggling after rejecting Barca's first bid of £29m.

But in a recent BBC interview Rosell was a lot more measured.

"The first thing I will do is sit down with (manager) Pep Guardiola and his technical staff," he said. "If they feel they need Fabregas, and Barca and Arsenal can do a deal, we will try to bring him to Barca. So there are a lot of steps before we can say Fabregas is a Barca player."

I get the impression that Rosell views the 23-year-old midfielder as a bonus: it would be nice to have him but we won't/can't overpay. The most recent smoke signals suggest uniting new signing David Villa with his international strike partner Fernando Torres is a bigger priority.

And what of Fabregas in all this?

Having initiated this saga by suggesting his work here was done, he has kept his head down, which is understandable given the task of getting into Spain's starting XI at the World Cup.

Cesc Fabregas and Arsene WengerFabregas is probably Wenger's best signing and the two have enjoyed a great relationship over the last seven years

But the last statement he said before he left for South Africa was that he had talked things through with Wenger and his future was now in the manager's hands. If this is the case, Fabregas, is going nowhere. Not this summer, anyway.

With no financial impetus to sell (just the opposite), Arsenal are believed to have slapped a £80m price tag on their best player. A second offer is expected but you can be sure it will be closer to £29m than £80m. That will not be enough to persuade Wenger he is better off with the money than the player.

There is another element to this and it is there for all to see in South Africa: Fabregas is not guaranteed a game at Barca. It was a point made (perhaps unwisely) by Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood last month.

My (reasonably informed) guess is that Wenger has asked Fabregas, who has five years left on his contract, for one more season, promising new signings to help him carry the weight of Arsenal's expectations.

The trade-off will be an assurance he can go next summer, for a figure much closer to Barca's valuation, if Arsenal come up empty-handed again.

Arsenal will have got eight years' service out of a player groomed by Barca, Barca will have a home-made replacement for Xavi and all-out war between two of Europe's greatest clubs, and one of football's good guys, will have been avoided - the "Henry compromise", if you like.

I might be wrong, though. Southend signed Harrold in the end. It was a disaster.

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    He is an excellent player really is but what's the point of him staying at Arsenal unless AW gets a defence?!

  • Comment number 4.

    'Arsenal will have got eight years' service out of a player groomed by Barca'

    Matt - do you consider Cesc's work at Barcelona pre-16 years of age to be more important an education than the eight years playing first team Premier League football under a manager like Arsene Wenger then? I'd say it's the other way around. He was nowhere near the finished article when he came as this statement somewhat suggests?

  • Comment number 5.

    Great article, I hope your right about Fabregas giving us 1 more year... It appears Barca are not immune to the Global finacial crisis however having the backing of a Bank that undoubtedly support the club pretty much ensures that you will always find that extra 25 million when required.


    As for the defence, I'm thrilled Gallas has decided to move on and have little doubt that he will be replaced before too long. RVP for #10 Jersey.

  • Comment number 6.

    Barcelona did not groom Fabregas. He was 16 when he left baracelona and a good player but hardly their star player at the time..which is he was allowed to leave.

    Fabregas came to Arsenal because he wanted to. He was not stolen or prised away. Also Fabregas has become the great player he is because of ARsenal and being allowed to start for the team since his teens.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm afraid I'm with Hill-Wood on this one. The one player Barca DO NOT need to sign is a ball-playing midfielder. He wouldn't get a game!

    Furthermore, almost everyone seems to regard Wenger as a saint for signing lots of young players. I'm afraid I don't see why cherry picking the best young players from other club's academies around the world for peanuts when they're 15/16 is somehow a more proper thing to do than wait till they're 21 and pay the going rate.

  • Comment number 8.

    It may well be that spending the world cup with Spain not getting into the national team might make his mind up. The players keeping him out of the team are generally Barcelona players (Xavi, Busquets and even Mata getting on the pitch ahead of him) and that is before you consider Iniesta being ahead of him in the pecking order. Does Fabregas want to spend all season the bench being Xavi's back-up? Do Barca want to spend £80m on a player they don't seem to actually need?

  • Comment number 9.

    Good, interesting read, thanks.

  • Comment number 10.

    As much as I`d like our best player to stay, quite clearly he want´s to leave. Others before him were allowed to go from Overmars to Viera, Henry, Hleb etc, etc.

    Cecs has given seven years of excellent service to us, so we should be greatful and Wenger and the borad too. I believe when he faced his old club in the CL last season and getting completely outclassed by Barca, he realized how big the gap between the two club had become since playing Barca in the CL final in 2006. While Barca had improved, we got worse after spending very little money in the transfer market with a very weak defence, second rated goalkeepers and relying more than ever on youngsters at least not yet ready for the big stage.

    In order to buy him, Barca will have to increase their first offer, but to value Cecs at 80m is absolutely ridiculous. A figure of around half that is a sensible prices for his services, given the facte his contract is running for some more years.

    I totally agree with you, Matt, it´s up to Barca how eager they`re to get him. If it would be up to Cecs, he`d be gone already. Wenger might have made promises to him buying a couple of experienced players, but apart from the die-hard Wenger supporters few think that would be enough to challenge for either the PL or CL titles. As for the last six years Wenger is taking up our chances in both competitions and he`ll do it again before the start of the next season. A lot of hot air without any substance and judged on Cecs`s recent interview I doubt he`ll believe it either. Staying with us won`t improve him as a player nor earn him any major trophy.

  • Comment number 11.

    What was the saga surrounding Matt Harold's transfer to Southend? I can't find the full story anywhere. Is it even interesting? Should I even care?
    p.s. excellent blog
    It would be interesting to hear where Pep sees Cesc fitting in to his plans. I would imagine he would be employed in a rotation system but ultimately behind Busquets, Xavi & Iniesta.In that case for Cesc it surely would be beneficial to stay for one more season at the very least or would he be more content on the bench at the Nou Camp?

  • Comment number 12.

    I found this to be a very good article in many respects. I live in Barcelona and follow their team a lot. I agree that Cesc joing Barca next season would suit both clubs, barca get a better price, arsenal keep him for 1 more season.( i think rosell will strike the deal this summer and it will be kept quiet aka c ronaldo to madrid). I dont agree with your point about fans disliking Laporta because Ferrer failed. Yes he backed Ferrer but the campaign for Ferer started very late, only a couple of months before the vote. Rossell however was very well known for the last 7 yrs and his campaign basically started 2 years ago. With regards to the debt situation at Barca, i side with Laporta. Money is not a problem for this club, and the only reason they will offer 29m for cesc is because they feel they shouldnt have to pay for "1 of their own".

  • Comment number 13.

    Smashing little player. Maybe just a bit too small for the Premier League though ive always thought and Arsenal have never bought the type of midfielder for him to play alongside to take the weight off him. Fabregas is an artist, not an artisan and yet Arsenal want him to do both. He should leave. The Club have let him down. Another season carrying the likes of Nasri, Diaby, Denilson and Rosicky and Co must seem like a sentence if what you say is right.

    Get him a partner Arsene or let the fella go!

  • Comment number 14.

    With Mourinho going to Madrid, does anybody actually think that Barcelona will have the same sort of success that they've had recently?..

    If Cesc want's to win trophies, moving to Barcelona might not be the best move now.
    Though if he stays at Arsenal, and the team starts progressing the way Wenger imagines over the next two years, hopefully with one trophy next season to set the wheels in motion, then staying at Arsenal will be better for him.
    He's the star man at Arsenal, the captain, he'll only end up a bit part player for Barcelona for a good 3-4 years until Xavi is well and truly finished, which might even be longer..

    Of course all this nonsense that we're selling Cesc this Summer makes for good reading, goes to show how gullible the general public are.

  • Comment number 15.

    Fabregas is world class. V Persie is world class, Diaby is talented. Rosciky is talented, Walcott is inconsistent but dangerous. Sagna and Vermaleyn are solid. But Clichy is a poor defender, Denilson is lightweight, Nasri has no end product and the goalkeeping situation is way beyond a joke. No one can blame Cesc for leaving, he deserves trophies for all his talent and ability, similar to Gerrard and Torres at Liverpool. Clubs have to do their best to secure these trophies otherwise (not always, but most of the time) players will leave. Football is their profession, their status, their pride. If Cesc goes to Barca admittedly he will not start all the games , especially in the short time. Xavi rules. But he will play a decent percentage of games and at 23, he will eventually succeed Xavi. He will also be closer to family and friends in his native country. no one that follows football can begrudge him wanting to be somewhere where trophies are an expectation and pre requisite, on the contrary to a hope. With players like Bendtner and Denilson and Silvestre and all their goalkeepers those hopes will never come to fruition.

  • Comment number 16.

    Re Peter 648pm - spot on

  • Comment number 17.

    Wenger makes the players, just look at how many have left Arsenal and failed, Henri & Petit spring to mind.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great article. Agree that it's all about money and with an economist as a manager then Arsene Knows! £80m isn't at all unreasonable bearing in mind compensation for cutting his contract short + the fact he hasn't even reached his prime yet.

    Barca if you want Cesc then find the cash, if not then go somewhere else.


  • Comment number 19.

    Last year we witnessed circus with Lescott saga. It disrupted Everton preparations badly. It is in the best interest of Arsenal to resolve this matter quickly. If Arsenal sell Fabregas for anything less than 50M-60 it will be completely bonkers. Fabregas said he want to leave so sell him quickly. I don't believe that Arsenal will get 80M is straight deal, more like 40M-50M + add-ons. Barca are money bags and if Wenger decide that offer is not good enough, he should keep Cesc - even with risk that he won't perform.

  • Comment number 20.

    Excellent read.

    I have to say, I mostly agree with Hill-Wood's comments about this being a bad time, for Fabregas at least, to sign for Barca. At best, he'll be in and out of the team. At worst, he'll be an impact player - it's just not worth it for him.

    As for the Mourinho factor.... Surely I can't be the only person who thinks this will all end in tears for Real Madrid (again)?

  • Comment number 21.

    Very good article! And I should know, because I made exactly the same points in 606 2 months ago.

    What I don't think you emphasise enough though (and many football journalists miss completely) is that Barcelona (and Real Madrid) hold elections for their President. As is usual with any election, the candidates make promises (their manifesto) that they hope will appeal to voters. In practice, again as is usual, some of these are impractical and/or too expensive and are not intended to be actually implemented. As you point out, Barca do not need Cesc at present and while they are not poor, do not have the money to pay for an "extra" in transfer fees and a high salary. An agreement to transfer next year or even, given his age, the year after is more likely.

    Note, as Matt says, that Arsenal are STILL owed for part of Henri's and Hleb's transfers!

    Some of the other comments, slagging off competent and hard-working Arsenal players good enough to be at the World Cup, show ignorance and, I suspect, the strange delight that some so-called football fans have in dissing players of rival teams and trying to do a wind-up.

  • Comment number 22.

    Really interesting article. A couple of points:

    Fabregas certainly WOULD NOT play more than half of Barca's games.

    £29 million is no where near how much Cesc is worth--triple that is closer.

    Has Cesc actually said (recorded by the media) that he wants to leave Arsenal? I keep on hearing how his so-called friends and family say he wants to leave but I have never heard Cesc himself say it. Please anyone say if I'm wrong!

    Keep these articles up Matt!!

  • Comment number 23.

    A credible point about Arsene Wegener. He is indeed the best coach for the Arsenal job, as he knows exackly how to work the transfer market, something many stupid and lesser managers havn't got the grasp.

    however, to refer to a club as a business is a little naive. We full well know that football is small business. Th whole turnover of the premier league can and will never match even some of the smaller world banks. Therefore, for a football club to be considered any kind of business is wrong

  • Comment number 24.

    What I find annoying about this saga (from an Arsenal point of view) is that Fabregas only wants to go to Barca. Most other players would look at all the options and go where the best offer is, all things considered. If that were the case here Arsenal could expect a thumping fee and everyone would be happy!

    Are you sure you don't want to go to Real, Cesc? They'll pay you more and guarantee you a regular start! Just don't make it Chelsea...

    No, I know it won't happen, just musing.

  • Comment number 25.

    its never true unless have published it!!

    DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think its important that arsenal hold on to Fabregas, if not for his playing ability alone but to make a statement that we're not going to become a feeder club for the big boys. He has put in a lot of good service for us and I wouldn't begrudge him returning to Barca but it would be a shame not to allow wenger one last chance to get a trophy with him. I'm bored of players who are halfway through long-term contracts demanding to leave, we should not sell him for less than £50million - NO WAY.
    23. Are you sure you're not the one who's a little naive. Of course its a business you plonker, and a pretty big one. Because a news agents makes £200 a day, does that somehow mean it cannot be referred to as a business. hmmm.

  • Comment number 27.

  • Comment number 28.

    From what I gather from latest FIFA rules both Barca and Real Madrid and Man Utd and Liverpool are a bit in trouble to the new finacial rules. Where as Arsenal are "the Bank of England" club. Cesc stays. He can't get in Spains starting line up and the only 2 players who have had any sucess after leaving Arsenal where Frank Stapleton and Liam Brady. Dunno if anyone has another view on this?

  • Comment number 29.

    Morning all, thanks for reading. I've got to go out and interview somebody now but will be back later to respond to as many of your questions as I can.

    But kid86 (11), no you definitely shouldn't care about Matt Harrold's transfer to Southend. I like to shoehorn Shrimper references into my blogs and was desperately trying to think of a 'saga' of our own. I was leaning towards our drawn-out courtings of Alan McCormack or Tony Grant (more loan signings who stayed, though) when I remembered that the local paper could slightly excited about Harrold. He's a local boy, you see. But what clinched it was his wikipedia page. It's there in the 2nd paragraph. Hilarious. I think he wrote that himself.

    More (on Fabregas) later.

  • Comment number 30.

    Obviously every single one of you Journalists cannot read English, but just in case, here we go:

    "We have followed recent speculation linking Cesc with a move away from the Club but as there has never been any official approach for him, only two informal exchanges, in which we made it abundantly clear that we have no interest in transferring Cesc, we have refrained from publicly passing comment. (Granted there was a £29m bid that was swiftly rejected shortly after this)

    Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is under contract with the Club until the summer of 2015. He is a highly-valued member of the team and part of our future plans.

    To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word."

    Now there you have it, to me it is quite clear that Cesc Fabregas is going nowhere because for some reason his club "Arsenal" do not want to sell and have made that categorically clear.

    Are you not able to make any other stories????

  • Comment number 31.

    At last a balanced view of the debate. I'm glad to see someone taking a little bit more of a measured approach (unlike some of your McColleagues).

    I am also convinced he won't be gone this year but more than likely will be next year. It would be far less surprising to see Torres go there, especially with the lack of love forthcoming for Ibrahimovic at Barca.

    I have been impressed with the way Cesc has handled himself over the saga, which is more than can be said about his agent/prospective colleagues who along with Laporta seem to have no qualms in engaging in tapping up style opportunism. Do you think Arsenal would have a case to complain on this front? Barca have been so up front with their pursuit that it seems ridiculous for FIFA not to at least warn them. However I would guess that there is about as much chance of this as Barca attempting to call Matt Harold up to the Nou Camp.

  • Comment number 32.

    A well balanced piece that was both informative yet raised debate. It's a shame other bloggers do not do the same..

    I do not see the point in holding into Cesc for 1 more year for two reasons:

    1. He said he wants to leave. That is a massive factor, if we force him to stay he is going to be unhappy, and no matter how much of a genteleman he is, it is certain to affect his form. By the end of the season, if we are potless and Barca are trophy laden again, this unhappiness could have morphed into resentment and he could take on the mentalitlity that he must force the move through and this could affect the transfer value. Because even if we agreed to let him leave a year later, the transfer fee will not have been negotiated. It would already of diminished slightly as his contract has less time to run and if he begins to force it through Barca will be in the box seat.

    Of course, there is the flip side. He may stay for a year and be fit all season and become the best midfielder in the world, which he is not far from being. His stats this season ( 36 games, 19 goals 18 assists & Xavi's were 54 games, 2 goals, 14 assists) If he was to go on to produce better then Arsenal could push the price up, but its a financial tight rope.

    2. By him staying for another year, we may miss out on two possible replacements for him. In my opinion Gourcouff and Ozil could fit into the Arsenal side as the creative element. Gourcouff has had 2 sucessful seasons at Bourdeaux in both the league and more importantly the Champions League. Wenger has followed him from early days in France too. With Blanc becoming French manager, there is big chance that he will leave this summer and if Cesc stays we will miss out.

    At present Ozil is a rising star and this may appeal to Wenger more. Ozil starred in the U21 final against England last season and i heard good things about him last season for Werder Bremen. He has just scored a stunner for Germany and he is bound to be sought after this summer.

    I would love Cesc to stay at Arsenal but you cannot keep a player who wants to leave and if he does want to stay it has to be for at least 3 yeard so if Wenger does the right things summer then he can build the new signings and team arounnd Cesc.

    The example i look to is Juventus in the summer of 2001. They had just finished another trophless season and were looking to re build. They sold Zidane to Madrid for £46million and brought in Buffon, Nedved and Trezeguet and went on to win back to back league titles and the Champions League...

  • Comment number 33.

    Barcelona are going to get fabregas this summer sorry they have offered us 30 mil is this a joke, great article you highlight some very good points. Wenger and fabregas have a good relationship and if he was the one that got his career started and made him into the player he is today however if barcelona want cesc they need 60 mil max.

  • Comment number 34.


    Please Please Please show me and article/quote from Cesc Fabregas stating that he wants to leave Arsenal.

    Not once has he said he wants to leave, in fact, quite the opposite. In every interview Ive seen him give he has continuously expressed his desire to stay at Arsenal and that he is fed up being constantly harassed about moving.

  • Comment number 35.

    ordiokid (and others):

    Are you sure Cesc has said he wants to leave Arsenal? That's what the tabloids, Laporta, Xavi and others at Barca would have you believe, but as far as I am aware, he has not said he is in a hurry to go. Some comments he made in Spain have been taken out of context, but that's all.
    Fabregas quite happily admits that, when he does leave Arsenal, he only wants to play for Barcelona, and he has never made a secret of his ambition to go back to Barcelona at some point in his career.
    But the last thing I can remember him saying personally, is that he is very happy at Arsenal and feels there is a job to be done here.
    Perhaps he actually wants to stay at Arsenal until the time is right to make his move to Barcelona? And perhaps he knows that time is not right now?

  • Comment number 36.

    very good article

  • Comment number 37.

    Febregas will make a huge mistake if he leaves Arsenal, He got example of Alex, He might not fit in properly in Barsa formation, He can achieve a lot in london, just need patience

  • Comment number 38.

    Talk about coming and going...interesting to read that according to a statement widely published by his agent Uli Ferber earlier this month, Alexander Hleb (one of Cesc's best friends when he was at Arsenal - quote (July 2008) : "He (Cesc) is my best friend at Arsenal, together with [Mathieu] Flamini)" is set to return to the Spanish club after an unsuccessful loan spell at Stuttgart - he's expected to report for pre-season training with Barcelona on July 15.

    All very odd given Hleb's comments only last August that "he made an error in swapping Arsenal for Barcelona" and "Of course I regret leaving Arsenal..No player ever gets worse under Wenger. For me, leaving Arsenal was not a good move"

    I'd like to be a fly on the wall listening to his conversations with Cesc...'yeah come back to Barca it's fantastic here!'

  • Comment number 39.

    Arsenal may have a healthy balance sheet but they simply can not afford him and their manager has a bigger ego than all the players! he is willing to keep failing to prove his point of not overspending! I just hope the Arsenal fans dont feel like they are overspending to watch Arsenal?????

  • Comment number 40.

    Arsenal made Fabregas the player he is today, but Barcelona.
    95% of players who leave Arsenal do not go on to have great careers, and he would be leaving Arsenal so that he can sit on the bench and because a bit-part player with Barcelona. I don't think logically that could be a smart move.
    but to be honest I don't blame him for wanting to leave, I have spoke to at least 19 fans who will not be renewing there season tickets because with the amount of money that we are paying, we need to as fans see that same investment reflected on the pitch. and fans are starting to think that the Board are running a money making scheme fit for themselves, rather than making a successful team.
    seeing what happened to Liverpool last season, we are going to wait until that day comes when other teams just out spend us? because its happening right in front of us. Spurs are in Europe, its very possible that Man City will be next season in 2011, so where does that leave Arsenal?. without a cup in 6 years, out of the top four? and pockets fully loaded?.....that to me isn't worth the price of being rich!

    all this promise and talk of the new ground making us become a power in football spending is a joke. and fans are starting to see this now!

    the quality of players over the years has totally been decimated, not worth the price of £1200 per season ticket!....for that money spent, you'd expect better investment on your return as fans. its unacceptable

  • Comment number 41.

    Last autumn Fabregas contract was renegotiated with a huge pay increase designed to keep him at the Emirates. The pay deal was very generously backdated to the start of the contract. This happened with Henry and when he left the board were furious although Wenger knew that Henry was past his best.

    Not only will Arsenal hold out for more money they should also insist on a cash deal only - no instalments. This would kill any deal dead. As Henry is moving on they should also demand any remaining instalments on the Henry deal be paid as well. Regarding Barca's "accounting practices" I have felt for a long time that they are at best suspect and at worst fraudulent. Real Madrid are not much better.

  • Comment number 42.

    As an Arsenal fan and seaason ticket holder, my ideal scenario is to get rid NOw and bring in something closer to £60 million. He's worth every penny of that as he's only just 23 and comfortably one of the 5 bext central midfielders in Europe. That he doesn't get into the Spain side is more down to the tactics they play than the ridiculous notion peddled by some that Xabi Alonso or Busquets are better players. They're not, they're different players.

    The other scenarion would be to offer him to Rea Madrid and try and get a bidding war going, but Arsenal has always been a club to do things the right way and they'll be fair to Cesc I have no doubt.

    The title of Arsenal captain is one of the most important in English football and ultimately the idea of having him wearing our captain's armband when he doesn't want to be there is one which sits very uncomfortably with me.

  • Comment number 43.

    @34 & 45

    Maybe i have jumped the gun a bit on him saying he wants to go. You are right that there has been no official statement from he club or himself.
    But could that not be down to his involvement in the World Cup.

    Also why would he say he has left his "future in Arsene's hands" and "it's not up to him anymore"? If he did not want to leave and was asked about his future he would say his usual comments. He know's that we don't want to or need to sell him, so comments that down slap down the speculation rasise questions.

    Search Cesc Fabregas interview 2010 - Arsenal Future HQ on the web.

    I understand that it is still all speculation, but even if he didnt want to leave for Barca before going to Worlsd Cup, you can bet that the Barca contingent in the quad have been working on him to get to leave.

    As i stated in my earlier but, i don't want him to leave. But if he stays i want it to be for 3 years miniumum.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for this article. I really appreciate an apparently objective and dispassionate view of the situation. As a lifelong Gooner, I hope you're right about us getting one more season out of Cesc. We all know he's going to go home eventually but I genuinely feel this would not be the right time for him and, who knows, if Arsenal can finally deliver on their potential, with Cesc as captain, then maybe he'll want to stick around for longer and be a part of it.

  • Comment number 45.

    @34 & 45 ( with no spelling mistakes)

    Maybe i have jumped the gun a bit on him saying he wants to go. You are right that there has been no official statement from the club or himself.
    But could that not be down to his involvement in the World Cup?

    Also why would he say he has left his "future in Arsene's hands" and "it's not up to him anymore"? If he did not want to leave and was asked about his future he would say his usual comments. He know's that we don't want to or need to sell him, so comments that don't slap down the speculation rasise questions.

    Search Cesc Fabregas interview 2010 - Arsenal Future HQ on the web.

    I understand that it is still all speculation, but even if he didnt want to leave for Barca before going to World Cup, you can bet that the Barca contingent in the squad have been working on him to get to leave.

    As i stated in my earlier but, i don't want him to leave. But if he stays i want it to be for 3 years miniumum.

  • Comment number 46.

    I also believe that given Fab's playing time in the World Cup so far, he might opt to stay at Arsenal himself. Maybe Wenger told him to pick the conversation up after the World Cup and his experience in playing with all the Barca players. I cannot believe that someone like him would go to a team without certain guarantees of first team play.

    Of-course he still has a chance to shine with Spain and convince Barca that he is better than what they normally field. Personally, other than Iniesta, I think he is better than what they have.

    I still find it amazing that he entered a game in the premiere league, injured, for 20min, and won it for Arsenal. That is Fabregas.

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks very much for the link to my blog, Matt.

    I've picked up quite a few new readers today :-)

  • Comment number 48.

    Great sensible read Matt...

    Thank you, it really is a refreshing compared to the repetitive drivel we Arsenal fans subject ourselves to during our daily browse!

    This is around and about what I have been saying during drunken debates with friends for weeks now... so many people assume it is a done deal...
    Your points about the financial position of both clubs are very important, and its great to finally see someone pick up on this.

    On the matter of Cesc leaving, bar financial factors, here's what I make of it:

    Old heroes like Keown don't do anyone any favours by making comments like Fabregas is "sure to go"...
    It is not for anyone to say when or how much he goes for, except for Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger.

    Fabregas was a first team player under Wenger when he was 16!
    He is the player that he is today, thanks to the confidence that Wenger showed in him.

    Although he is obviously blessed with a natural talent, this talent was allowed to flourish under Wenger... Can anyone say that he would have got this chance at Barca?

    For that, he owes some loyalty.

    I can understand why our captain would want to return to the club he supported, to his home town, to his country, to his family... but I also know that he is a good guy, and he will accept whatever Wenger chooses to do...

    I don't agree they came to some agreement for one more year with new players signed and he can go if we win nothing again...

    I genuinely DID think that at the start when Cesc made the statement about the "best conversation" of his life.... but, eventhough we know Fabregas has said it time and time again, I feel like maybe he would have said he was going nowhere (for now) to the press, or at least hinted to his Spanish team mates to stop making comments...

    He surely doesnt want to come back to the Arsenal fans he loves, having had us all bite our nails wondering if he will stay or go, without so much as one little comment to settle us.
    He always did this when he was linked in the past, so he obviously believes the deal may still happen.

    If he were not to return to Arsenal after the World Cup, it would be a terrible thing for Arsenal, Arsenal Fans, and the relationship between the fans and our young captain...

    It has all just been too dirty and underhand.

    It would be a knife in the back for us fans if he where to go after how they have conducted themselves.

    I think he is itellegent enough to understand the tactics they are using, but maybe tries to ignore them because of his desire to return.

    I, for one, would love to see him come back to a better Arsenal, with a few additions, win something with us, and then if he wants to go, let us get a nice healthy fee then... He may even have a Gerrard moment, and in the heat of success after winning something big, realise he loves the club, and want to stay (for a while anyway)

    It goes without saying, if he were to return and win nothing again, he should be allowed to leave, as he is one of the best players in the world, and deserves to win things.

    But either of those scenario's will ensure he leaves with his head held high, and with the love of the fans... I fear that if he goes now, it will tarnish his relationship with the fans forever, and that would be even worse than loosing him to Barca!
    I would blame everyone at Barca who have got their tuppence worth in for this, and could never forgive them.

    Arsenal and Arsene have, as always, remained a "touch of class" throughout, giving us all a reason to be very proud of our club.

    For all the trophies and history that Barca have, I believe that the Arsenal shirt can be worn with considerably more pride, and I am sure that all the success that we deserve is within touching distance... with or without the brilliant Cesc Fabregas.

    Great Article Matt... Keep them coming!

  • Comment number 49.

    Cesc has never publicly said he wants to join Barca; so in that respect this whole jamboree is based on a false premise.
    He HAS said that if he were to leave Arsenal, it would only be to Barca. So it is only natural, since he is Spanish and originally from Barca, that people will put 2 & 2 together to make 7 and say it is inevitable he will go sometime; 606 is littered with this. That may be true, and certainly Cesc saying that Pep is his hero would seem to make such a move more likely.
    But he has always said he is happy at Arsenal; and since he seems to be a straightforward kind of guy, I'd have thought Barcelona's current behaviour would tend to put him off such a move. He's learned most of his trade at Arsenal. He also has huge respect for Wenger, so maybe when Arsene retires will be the time Cesc will go (and personally I don't think that'll be 2011).
    In the World Cup build-up with all the nonsense from Xavi etc, Cesc was entitled to ask for his situation to be clarified: was he going to be sold or not? have made it perfectly clear that he is not. Likening his situation to Henry or Hleb, both of whom were past-it from an Arsenal perspective, is irrelevant. Since then Cesc has made it perfectly clear that he is happy to leave decisions about his future in Arsene's capable hands.
    None of which suggests that Cesc wants out or is no longer fit to be Club Captain.
    If anyone has any direct quotes from Cesc himself to the contrary, please advise; but otherwise I think (and hope) he'll stay.
    Well written article Matt BTW, unfortunately up a bit of a side-alley methinks!

  • Comment number 50.

    A footballers career is relatively short and can be ended in a matter of seconds.

    As an Arsenal fan it would really hurt me to see Cesc leave but I can totally understand his reasons for wanting to leave.

    If I was a footballer born in north london and playing for Valencia, for example, and arsenal wanted to sign me I would not be able to refuse as I've been a fan of them all my life. The fact that all my family and friends live near and support the club would also be a major influence in my decision. Having a more realistic chance of winning major trophies would also come into consideration.

    We, as arsenal fans, are only too aware of the damage that can be caused by a split second tackle. Careers can be finished in seconds.

    It would break my heart to see our captain leave but if he did I for one would wish him well. Life is too short to have any regrets. If its what he really wants then go for it

  • Comment number 51.

    As an Arsenal fan, I don't want to see him go; of course I don't - he's basically carried the club for the past 2 seasons and it's safe to say that without Cesc or van Persie, Arsenal would quite easily be a mid-table club. Sure, we have a few talented players in Nasri, Diaby, Walcott, Arshavin and so on; but they don't perform week-in, week-out to the extent that Cesc and Robin (when fit) do.

    Arsene does know what he's doing, I'm sure, but I would definately like to see a much-improved team walk out to face Liverpool in 2 months time. We need to get another Mathieu Flamini to help Cesc in the midfield and to protect the back four - quite why Arsene let him go is beyond me, but oh well. Of course, there is the fact that we need to also sort out the keeper crisis and need another decent CB to help Vermaelen (who thank god looks like a bargain at £10M).

    The team needs to move on from last season where, if I'm honest, had van Persie not been injured I actually believe that we could have had a shot at some silverware (not necessarily the Prem, but perhaps FA Cup). For now, we cannot lose Cesc; we've seen how the team underperforms without him, and there's (in my opinion) no realistic replacement for him, thus we should hang onto him for another 2 seasons (not the 1 as suggested in the article), try and win something in 2 years (again, more possible than in 1 season - lot of work to be done) and then if we still fail, resign to the fact we'll lose him, take the cash and start from scratch.

    Good blog, though, very interesting to read.

  • Comment number 52.

    Great blog. Great research, balanced, informative, relevant and interesting.

    Phil McNulty, take note.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hear hear, really great article, very interesting.

  • Comment number 54.

    The tv money point is an interesting issue- how on earth did Barca and Real managed to wangle that? I'm surprised United, Arsenal and Liverpool (and even some others with large fan bases like Spurs and Newcastle) faced with Chelsea & City artificially enriching their squads haven't pushed for something similar. People might say you need the support of the whole league but do they? Without those first 3 teams interest in the "premier league" would diminish. It wouldn't surprise me if the idea rears its head at some point.

    Fabregas will sadly (for the English game and Arsenal) leave and thankfully it's not for the glory of being a galactico despite joining a club that's done nothing in Europe since 2002 (Ronaldo) or for money (Adebayor, Robinho et al) but to join his boyhood club.

  • Comment number 55.

    i think fab became good because wenger gave him a chance and he took it with both hands,gave his all and the results speaks for themselves unlike other players.but if he feels his time is up at emirates i think he should be let go BUT at a right price and give chance to another youngstar like wilshere and the like or even buy another unknown,who knows what one can turn out to be if given a chance and put faith in him.WHO KNEW fab when he jetted in at 16 years?...ARSENE KNOWS

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi, Matt. Thanks for an excellent's so refreshing to read a report on the Cesc saga that isn't just quoting Barcca players and twisting Cesc's own words to suggest he is desperate to turn his back on Arsenal and go warm the bench for Barca.

    My two cents: Firstly, and most importantly, is the simple fact that if he does go to Barca then he'll be effectively 3rd or 4th choice. It's not easy going from main man to bench warmer, not only mentally but in the style of play you are expected to deliver. I don't know if anyone else remembers this, but when Joe Cole first signed for Chelsea from West Ham he had real trouble adapting from main man who everything went through to just another cog in the least that's how I remember it?
    Financially, Arsenal have no motivation to sell Cesc, and Barca don't appear to have the financial will to grossly overspend in the way that would give Arsenal some motivation. Arsenal have for years been (financially) the best run club in the EPL, have built possibly the best stadium in the country AND have maintained a top 4 presence and CL knock out stages throughout!
    Re: The quality of the squad, everyone talks about Cesc needing a partner in midfield, but literally NO-ONE on this blog has mentioned Alex Song. Argueably one of the most improved players at Arsenal or even in the EPL, along with Eto'o Cameroon's best player by a distance and one of the most consistantly (criminally) underrated performers in the squad. Personally I would compare him to the 'Invisible Wall' Gilberto Silva...hardly notice him when he's on the pitch, but REALLY notice when he's not! Also, of the disaster that has been France's WC, Diaby has been one of the only players who has come out of it relatively unscathed...It's generally accepted that failing to take Nasri was one of Domenech's many mistakes, and Sagna didn't exactly have a terrible tournament. Walcott is going to come into next season fresh for what is probably the first time for a couple of years. Wilshire is showing signs of being, along with Adam Johnson, one of the players that will be shaping England's football team for many years to come. If he hadn't got his leg broken Ramsey was well on his way to becoming a top class midfielder, to the point where i personally wanted Wenger to play a midfield of Song, Cesc and Ramsey. Arshavin IS a world class player, as is RvP. Bendtner is constantly slated (and sometimes deservedly so) but he managed to keep us in EPL contention when he was our only fit striker, seems to me to be leading Denmark's front line quite effectively thus far in South Africa, and in addition people all seem to have forgotten that we've already snapped up Chamakh on a FREE...a player who can be acknowledged as having a big part in Bordeaux's CL run last season.
    The only issues we really have in the squad are goalkeepers and defenders, and according to this very website Mark Scwarzer may well be the solution to the goalkeeping problem (although don't forget we also have the hugely talented Wojciech Szczesny returning from his loan spell as one of the most highly rated young keepers in the country). Defender wise, obviously I don't need to sing the praises of Thomas Vermaelen (maybe the best signing made by anyone in the EPL last season), and I think, like alot of Arsenal fans, not re-signing Gallas was an excellent decision. We do need a partner for Vermaelen, but that seems to be one of Wenger's priorities...and we realistically need a back up CB as well, seeing as Djourou has failed to stay fit for long enough to find the form he showed while on loan at Birmingham. I'll admit Clichy's patchy form is cause for concern, but don't forget we have Gibbs just waiting for his chance to nail down that spot!
    Also, I just want to comment on the people who seem to think that if Cesc doesn't move this year he's going to spend a season sulking and not performing. Exactly what are you basing this on? When in his career at Arsenal has Cesc thrown his toys out of the pram? I think maybe you're mistaking a player who has always managed to act highly professionally and in keeping with Arsenal traditions with regards to wages, contracts and transfers with a player like Adebayor or Ronaldo.

    So in summery, I can honestly see no reason (be it footballing or financial) for Cesc to leave Arsenal this summer. Wenger is working to strengthen the defensive side of the squad, which as I think I proved in excessive detail above is the only part that needed strengthening, he's not the sort of player who chases money but he's getting very well paid at Arsenal, he's a guarenteed starter and the club captain. He still has something to prove as club captain, and staying and winning silverware is the way to prove his leadership qualities and silence all the doubters about the youthfulness of the team. Arsenal don't need money so badly that they have to settle for Barca's attempts to under value the player and, finally, Wenger is Cesc's mentor and has even been described by the player himself as a father figure.

    Who'd seriously want to turn their back on all that?

  • Comment number 57.

    Afternoon all, a few more replies whilst I watch Italy try to rescue their sporting pride.

    Joc (4) & arsenalxi (6) - Fair point. You can be the best schoolboy footballer in the world but it's hard to say what kind of pro you'll make until you get a chance in the first team and CF undoubtedly owes AFC/Wenger a debt of gratitude for that chance. He has also developed into a superb all-round midfielder in Arsenal's colours. But let's not forget that he was part of the Barca set-up from a v young age and was player of tournament at World U-17s a month BEFORE Wenger signed him. He was a very very good signing!

    Ferry_Arab (7), Kasbah (8) et al - You're right. Barca's midfield must be the best in the world. Unbelievable depth too. What's interesting about the Spanish situation is that CF appears to have gone backwards in pecking order. He was first off the bench in Euro '08 & fought his way into starting XI for final. But he seems to have fallen out of favour a bit since that Confeds Cup loss last summer. Xavi is clearly his main obstacle but he's 30 now, seven years older than CF, who is still improving. He'll be a regular for Spain in a year or two. P'haps Barca too!

    Peter (10) - You're right to bring up that chastening CL defeat in March. As a neutral the gulf between the sides really shocked me. Must have shocked CF too. But as others have pointed out, do we have conclusive proof that CF really really wants to go? Coded messages p'haps but nothing concrete. I think he has voiced his concerns/frustrations to friends and family, that's been picked up and embellished a bit and the Barca elections have given it extra legs. That said, my guess is that he has asked Wenger exactly how he intends to close gap to Barca/Chelsea/Man U this summer and hands have been shaken on a 'give us another year' deal.

    jackie2006 (12) - Thanks for the info on the Ferrer situation. I'm right in thinking, though, that fans were tiring of Laporta's reign? But I think you're spot on about Rosell doing this deal quietly. Relations between these clubs are pretty good. They won't want to create a Man U v Real Madrid situation.

    Bergysdeftflicks (13) - I probably don't see enough of him but I've always been surprised at how tough he is. The only Arsenal game I went to last year was the home win against Bolton. You went 2-0 down & looked in trouble. But CF just took over from that point and you ended up comfortable 4-2 winners. He was winning tackles and completely running the show. Awesome display.

    Gallasphemy (14) - Not sure about Real and Mourinho. I'm sure he'll get there in the end but I still like Barca's chances next year. Villa is a great signing.

    Blimey, Italy have just gone out of the World Cup. Didn't see that coming. Must get on with something else now. Thanks again for reading.

  • Comment number 58.

    They work on the player with the monthly propoganda statements that soften up the player's emotion's. Then he cracks and want's to go home to be with his buddies and his agent does not disagree either. If Fab goes for anything less than £65 million Wenger will be seen as a sentimental old fool who's an easy touch, at the same time benefiting one of our main rival's. There'll be a fan mutiny, the board will have to go and Wenger will lose the enormous support he has !

  • Comment number 59.

    Matty (cheers for the response)..I'm certainly not going to argue with you that Cesc was 'a very very good signing' and good to see you give due credit to Arsene for taking a 'chance' on him. I would say however that most U-17s even at International level don't go on to enjoy an equivalent standard of development or career though or scouts would simply pick them all off at these Youth Tournaments and the Premier League would be littered with teenagers like tennis or gymnastics.

    Plus if you look at the amount of players passing through Barca's Academy every year (a with other clubs including Arsenal to be fair) - they could make the same claim of players being 'one of ours' on loads of stars once they've built up their careers elsewhere.

    In recent years they let Pique go (now returned), Giovani dos Santos, Fran Merida, Diego Capel and could soon be set to lose Gai Assulin and Bojan Krkić - all because they didn't want to promote them ahead of yearly mega-signings. No doubt Pedro will lose out to David Villa. Arsenal usually give youth a chance - sometimes to their own detriment...perhaps not enough English youth granted ;)

  • Comment number 60.

    Shouldn't that be "socis", rather than "socios", as we're talking about a Catalan club?

  • Comment number 61.

    As a long time Arsenal fan I would be 'gutted' if Fabregas went to Barca - but I wouldn't be surprised.

    In order to win trophies you have to hold onto your best players and buy others, sometimes superstars that demand huge wages. This is not the Arsenal way.

    When Flamini asked for more money he was allowed to leave, it's all part of Arsenal's plan to stay solvent and unhindered by huge debt. Flamini would have been the holding player Arsenal have missed the last 2 seasons but keeping financially afloat has come to mean more than winning trophies at Ashburton Grove.

    Arsenal will take the silly money offered by Barca, probably around 50 million pounds and they wont spend it on another player to replace Cesc. Frankly no one can replace him and buying a couple of possibilties for a few mill will not fill the gap left in midfield. Aaron Ramsay might be that good in a couple of years, but you can be sure that as soon as the big clubs come knocking he will go too.

    Simply put, with a nice new stadium, managable players wages ( almost half that of Chelsea for example) and a reasonable world-wide brand which brings in money from merchandise and TV rights, plus Champions League 'royalties' Arsenal do not need to win anything. They can quite happily sit in 3rd or 4th place and watch the other clubs - ManU and Liverpool spring to mind- get more behind on the payments, while they build a club that will last into the next decade.

  • Comment number 62.

    Excellent article of appropriate length to give sufficient depth to the subject without overkill. A couple of good links too.

    Keep up the good work Matt - I will look out for more from you in future.

  • Comment number 63.

    I agree completely that at this stage, the signing of Fabregas would more of a bonus for Barcelona than essential. Would also be a boost for the image of the incoming president.

  • Comment number 64.

    Peter or what u call urself i dont beleive for one miniute u are an arsenal fan cos from what u wrote is one of the most stupid thing i have seen base on the good work that wenger has done for this club and i thing we arsenal fans are every ungreatful and dont know how lucky we are until we lose the one thing that make our club so lucky. i just wish we will be greatful and give some credit to the manager for what he has done, and by the way matt keep up the good work .

  • Comment number 65.

    Good read.

    I do not agree with some of the points here but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    I do not think that Arsenal will sell Fabregas unless Barca offers a sum that Arsenal can not resist. I would like Fabregas to stay at Arsenal for years to come but from what has been going on and from what the player has said that's highly unlikely.

    If however Fabregas end up going to Barca this summer then I do not think that he will be getting enough playing time under his belt. Reason fro that is Xavi still has couple of years under him and most preferred than Fab is. If he goes then he will be, as it's being said above, a bonus signing not a necessity signing for Barca.

    As far as the team is concerned, I don't think the loss of Fab will have a long term effect on the team. Lansbury, Wilsher, Ramsey and others youngsters will be more than capable of filling the void. Adieu!

  • Comment number 66.

    Good points Krimbo and I agree with your assessment of the team, however one thing I think has been lacking these last 2 seasons is fighting spirit. You could probably say that only Fabregas has had the level of passion and determination that is needed at the top.

    "so in summery, I can honestly see no reason (be it footballing or financial) for Cesc to leave " its not for football or money he will leave it is because he wants to fulfill a life ambition. I would like to see the same kind of passion in a player who's ambitions are tied to that of our North London club. Now I am not going to knock foreign players but some of that homegrown talent has to emerge somewhere. Cesc is in London with a French manager playing with a multinational squad, but Barca is his home, you could call it the Charlie George effect! Even though Fabregas has been there so long and he is almost home-grown, most of the players probably didnt even know what N.5. meant when they started kicking a ball!
    Look at some of the 'home bred' teams e.g. Everton, who have not lashed out on tons of imports and compare the committment there with the Highbury diaspora. ( I only take Everton as one example- the lower down the league you go the more local it gets)

  • Comment number 67.

    Nice to see a balanced and calm assement of the Cesc situation, very well done Mr Slater!

    I would like to add, though, that I don't think that CL meeting with Barca can in any way be taken as some form of proof of any "enormous gulf in class" between the clubs. First and foremost, that first leg ended 2-2 after a very strong comeback by the Arsenal and Pep Guardiola also said that Barcelona have never played better than they did in that first half of the first game during his time as manager - and yet it took a horrible decision by Almunia to gift them their first goal. In the second leg we had so many players missing due to injuries I can't even remeber them all. Cesc was out, Gallas was out, RvP was still out etc etc. Yes, Barca were without a few but they still had all their best players bar Iniesta. They had Xavi, they had Messi etc etc.

  • Comment number 68.

    When you sign a contract that enables you to earn £50,000 a week then the club makes decisions based on this agreement, they turn down player sales and allocate their fund's accordingly. Just because a player want's to throw his toy's out of the pram doesn't mean he can go to his home club for about 45% of his real worth and Barcelona save 40 million in the process, I am afraid it doesn't happen like that. If Torres is worth £70 gazillion and Rooney is worth £120 million then that makes Fab worth about £70 million until the cow's come home. The monthly Spanish tapping up process whilst dishonourable and unsettling must be shown the respect it deserves, in Gazidis they have met their Waterloo ?

  • Comment number 69.

    My personal view on this so-called 'saga' with Fabregas is that it should be a lot simpler than the media hype has blown it up to be. At the end of the day, I think Arsenal could benefit from letting Fabregas go to Barcelona, they could certainly demand good money and possibly (as has been rumoured) look into the possibility of bringing Yaya Toure to London as part of the same deal. Toure would be a much better player than Fabregas, I think although Cesc has matured a lot in the last two seasons, he has not lived up to the high standards he set for himself when he was younger.

    I think Arsenal can afford to let Fabregas go, I don't think he had a great season at Arsenal last season and if he left I think it would open up the options in midfield. Diaby could play a more forward role, Song could come in as a defensive midfielder, Nasri and Rosicky could both move into attacking central roles which would allow them to play more to their natural strengths on the pitch and give Arsenal a more balanced midfield unit. I think Arsenal need to move strongly on Joe Cole's availability this summer, Manchester United have ruled themselves out of the chase for his signature so the only real competition is Spurs. I feel that Arsenal could really do with him as a left winger, further creating freedom to move Rosicky and Nasri into other roles in the team, but equally he would be a great signing for Redknapp at Tottenham who knows him well.

    For me though, I think Fabregas is replaceable and is not the big star that everyone in the media is making him out to be. If he's going to leave the club in the near future, I would rather he just stood up, shook Wenger's hand and walked out the door after the World Cup. Arsenal shouldn't fight him on it too much, I think he really wants to go home to Spain in his heart and if his heart is not at the Emirates then he should be allowed to leave.

  • Comment number 70.

    Everyone seems to think that Cesc wants to leave but I don't agree. He has said that the ONLY club that he'd leave Arsenal for is Barca. He has said that he hopes one day he will play for Barca. He has NEVER said that he was unhappy at Arsenal and he wants to go NOW and in fact has made it clear that he's happy to lead Arsenal out of the tunnel for some time to come. I think Cesc is thinking very hard about what would lie in store at Camp Nou. Several seasons of sitting on the bench, getting a game here and there versus being the lynch-pin of midfield? I doubt he's going to Barca this year. Maybe in two or three years when there's more opportunities to play there but this year it's just politics from Barca. Arsenal need him more and he knows that. He just won't ever say, "I'm not going to Barca," in case they cross him off their list for the future.

  • Comment number 71.

    Amazing that all the comments are so out of touch with modern football. To win international trophies it takes 22 players or more, used in rotation. If a player can´t accept that he should expect to win nothing. Barca have played 2 games a week on average for years now and ALL their players got play time and time off to rest their tired bones. Cesc plays the Barca style, that is why he is so great to watch. He would fit in to Barca like a glove. Many blogs are correct, Arsenal have not been spending for increased player depth and unless their owner shells out they will continue to trail behind the leaders. Eventually that will lead to a loss of revinue. Give Cesc a chance to win trophies and play with conviction for trophies one way or another. But I can only see this happen if he goes to Barca. They have the commitment to glory, whereas Arsenal are being penny wise and pound foolish.

  • Comment number 72.

    world cup syndrome..he went to the world cup where all the barcelona players around him convinced him into a move to barca..there wasnt much talk of this before the world up but it does seem inevitable that cesc will leave. Agree that he will not be able to oust Xavi or Iniesta but may have to have a role on the bench in his initial days. I have no doubt he will prove to be a adequate replacement when the time comes for Xavi to retire and then Fabregas and Iniesta can rule the roost for another good few years..


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