Latching onto a fantastic pass by Lionel Messi to then bury past Malaga’s Willy Caballero was Cesc Fabregas, creator turned receiver. How often would Arsenal fans roll back the years and relive those wonderful displays they were gifted by one of the best midfielders in the world?
It was difficult for Arsenal supporters to part with Cesc Fabregas, not solely because he was their captain, talisman and a representation of just another big name to leave the club, but predominantly because he was one of the finest in world football and the best midfielder in England for years.
I wouldn’t blame anyone for begrudging Barcelona; they had Andres Iniesta and Xavi already, why did they need another one? Of course, it doesn’t just come down to something as simplistic as that.
Thierry Henry’s departure from Arsenal may have been the most heartbreaking when he finally did leave for the Camp Nou, but Cesc Fabregas was something else, a talent that you don’t come across very often and one who is yet to reach his prime as one of the world’s elite.
It’s always important to lift spirits, and at this time Arsene Wenger has an unenviable task of doing just that at the Emirates. But his words on Fabregas returning to Arsenal in the future do not sit comfortably.
The past few seasons have taught us a lot about Barcelona, their values and the togetherness of those who grew up and dominate the various age groups in the youth system. Fabregas fought for at least a year to get his move back to Catalonia, to rejoin his best friend — who may become Barcelona captain one day. He wanted to continue his education and have the opportunity to play for one of his idols. It was a matter of trophies, but very much it was just about going home.
And why not? Barcelona have become the most successful, most attractive football team any of us has ever seen. Fabregas got his move and is now playing alongside a full cast of players who can match him in quality and help to guide the ship rather than just become passengers. Why, then, would he think about moving back to Arsenal in the future?
The truth is, no one really knows his intentions in five or six years time, not even Fabregas. What should be made clear is that this isn’t a group of players who will ever grow tired of winning. He may very well return to Arsenal for the final playing days of his career, but I don’t think it was the best comment to make from Wenger’s point of view at this time.
Fabregas may arrive at a point in his career where he believes business in north London hasn’t been finished. He’s a sure bet to win La Liga this season, and it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing if he lifted the Champions League in May, too. Fitting, then, that the final is in London. It would probably be the greatest return any Arsenal fan could experience; there was Thierry Henry’s goal last season against Leeds, but it’s a huge difference to envisage Fabregas back, even at the age of 30, to play a significant role at Arsenal for a good handful of seasons.
Had circumstances been different, then maybe it would have been a little more acceptable to take in. Had Arsenal not relinquished their hold on some of the best players in England and Europe over the past few seasons then it might have been a different story. But when Arsenal supporters are desperate for signs of life inside the club, with the January window open and available for Wenger to strengthen a desperately weak squad, the comment about Fabregas just seems to deflect the need from more pressing matters. It’s a chance at nostalgia, but one which hasn’t been perfectly placed.