Sport Soccer

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Twelve reasons for Fabregas to go

Cesc Fabregas. Photo: Getty Images
Cesc Fabregas. Photo: Getty Images

There are 12 obvious reasons why Cesc Fabregas wants to join Barcelona and none of them have anything to do with money.

They are two Champions League trophies, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, four Spanish league titles, one Spanish Cup and three Spanish Super Cups.

Twelve gleaming trophies, all deposited in the Nou Camp cabinet since May 21, 2005.

A significant date that for Arsenal football club. That was the last time Arsenal won a major trophy, beating Manchester United at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff after a goalless 120 minutes to become the first team to win the cup on penalties.

Fabregas was there, substituted in the 86th minute by Robin van Persie in a match in which Arsenal did not manage a shot on goal until extra-time.

Since then, however, the Gunners have won zilch. True, they reached the Champions League final in 2006 in Paris, only to be defeated by, who else, Barcelona.

But they have won nothing, despite Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's perennial insistence that trophies are just around the next turn. Next season. Always next season.

Well, after another year in which Arsenal flattered but once again failed, the signs are Fabregas has seen around that corner. And what keeps hitting him between the eyes are the blue and red stripes of the Spanish home town club for whom he played as a youngster. And men with arms aloft and medals around their necks.

It is a no-brainer for Fabregas. Once he was the young pretender, plucked from the Barcelona academy by Wenger at the age of 16, earmarked to lead a team of young, gifted stars all moulded in the same image to improbable feats in the world's most physically demanding league. Playing the most beautiful football the English game had ever seen. At least that was the theory.

You can see why it could be beguiling to impressionable youth.

Yet seven years on Barcelona's overtures to Fabregas are like David Cameron asking Nick Clegg did he want to join the cabinet, form government policy, shape the country for the next five years...or continue to wait patiently and watch enviously from the political shadows?

Clegg chose power. So, it seems, has Fabregas, even if his route out of the Emirates is complicated by the fact that he has five years remaining on his contract and Wenger desperately wants to keep him.

It does not mean Fabregas, Arsenal captain and most influential player, is disloyal, although Wenger and a sizeable proportion of the Emirates faithful might take that view.

No. More likely, Fabregas has looked around his colleagues at the Emirates and concluded the big prizes are not coming any time soon.

Not without a world-class goalkeeper, a mighty presence in defence a midfield enforcer alongside him and a top-class striker to support the injury-prone Robin van Persie.

The problem is Fabregas sees Barcelona lay out £34m for David Villa from Valencia while Wenger gives the impression he would rather run naked down the Holloway Road than write such a cheque.

Fabregas sees the Spanish club commit to strengthen after losing in the semi-final of the Champions League against Inter Milan while Wenger shows no urgency to do so after being humiliated by Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Fabregas sees Manchester City table a bid of £20m for Aston Villa's James Milner which could be just the aperitif in a summer spent stocking the shelves with top quality at Eastlands.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are committed to reinforcing after winning the double and Tottenham's first taste of the Champions League will encourage them to spend.

True, Sir Alex Ferguson has ruled out any major purchases at Old Trafford but it is not getting easier for Arsenal. It is becoming immeasurably more competitive.

And while Fabregas hears talk of ambition at Arsenal, talk of good times ahead, he sees no evidence of it. Sees no willingness to spend big.

It is why this time the Fabregas saga, which has been a cure for summer insomnia for the past couple of seasons, looks like ending in a wake-up call for Wenger.

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