The latest player to fall into the transfer trap?
Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has been marginalised to an extent at the club this season under new boss Tito Vilanova, lacking not only a clearly defined role in the side, and the feeling that he may have made the move back home to his first club a little soon continues to persist. That’s not to say that he’s the first player in history to have made the step up in class before the timing was right and there are a few excellent example right here on our own shores of a similar mistake being made.
Despite being afforded more playing time the past couple of weeks than he was at the start of the season, Vilanova has rotated his squad as he seeks to extent their lead over rivals Real Madrid early on in the campaign, aiming to keep key players fresh for the title run-in later on in the season. This has seen Fabregas return to the starting eleven, but you suspect that it’s more of a temporary measure than a permanent one and it appears as if he’s not held in quite the same esteem by the new Catalan coach as he was Guardiola.
Even a hint of dissatisfaction the past month or so on Fabregas’ part has been pounced on as a sign that the midfielder is looking for an exit from the Camp Nou, by a ridiculously over-zealous media in Spain and it’s all been greatly exaggerated. While he may not be first-choice, as his slump from January onwards last term has carried into this one, he clearly still has a long-term future in Catalunya.
Nevertheless, you do wonder why Fabregas was seemingly so intent on securing a move back to Barcelona at the age of 24. He may have spent eight-years with Arsenal in the Premier League, but here was a side preparing to build their side around his special skill set, while at Barcelona, he is merely another cog in a well-oiled machine and behind the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi which led to Fabregas arguing “the manager knows what I can offer. But across the three positions that I can play in, I am competing against the three best players in the world.”
Fabregas was always destined to return to Barcelona one day; there were no other rivals for his signature and the move had a certainty to it rarely seen in the game, it was just all a matter of timing. It seems as if the club bought him last summer because they could rather than because they actually needed to. While Guardiola may have praised the direct and unpredictable style gleaned from growing up in the Premier League, labelling it ‘anarchy’, Fabregas is well-know to have struggled with the more tactical demands and the mentally draining part of Barcelona’s methodical preparation and ingrained ethos.
The emergence of Thiago Alacantara hasn’t helped matters either and while Fabregas may go on to become a relied upon member guaranteed of a starting place each week further down the line, he certainly isn’t at the moment. The overriding feeling this campaign is that Fabregas gets a game when Vilanova can’t or chooses not to select someone else and he may have been better served staying an extra couple of years in England before making the inevitable switch.
The timing of making you big career move to a top club is everything and something that Adam Johnson fell prey too at Manchester City, failing to earn the full trust of manager Roberto Mancini and being used as a back-up player much in the same way Fabregas is this season, against so-called lesser opposition.
He made just 20 starts last season and completed a full 90 minutes on only six occasions, against Bolton, Sunderland, Stoke, Wolves, Wigan and finally Arsenal in the Carling Cup. I argued when City signed him, and received a fair amount of abuse for my theory may I add, that Johnson had the potential to play for a club with title ambitions, but that he had missed a crucial step in his career first; he needed to prove himself in the top flight and in essence ‘earn’ his move rather than always being seen as merely ‘potential’. As such, he’s had to take a step backwards to secure first-team football at Sunderland before he can think of playing for a top six club again.
Another example is Chelsea’s move for Victor Moses this summer. You can understand it from the club’s perspective, they acquire a decent winger to help add depth to their squad, he’s quick, can play off both feet and more importantly considering the new rules with concerns to squad lists being submitted, is young and English. However, does Moses honestly ever realistically see himself becoming a regular at the club over the course of the next couple of years? He’s going to stagnate just at a time when he needs football every week, similarly Scott Sinclair will likely do the same at Manchester City, with David Silva and Samir Nasri way ahead in the pecking order.
These sort of players are bought with the idea of becoming useful squad players and they will always remain just that. It’s very difficult to play your way into a managers first-choice starting eleven and many footballers make their move to a big club before they are truly ready or before their status carries enough currency to assure them regular football. Fabregas will be a Barcelona player for years to come and he will likely be consistently involved across all competitions this term, but the timing of the move looks a little off to me and it has the potential to hold him back when he could have been flourishing still here in England.
Are there any players that you think have made their moves to top clubs too early on in their careers? Post the below.
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