Barcelona club legend, Luis Enrique, has been tasked with rebuilding a side which struggled massively this season. With a potential transfer embargo hanging over their heads, the club are in a position where if they are to make significant squad changes, it may have to be sooner rather than later.
With this in mind, and the requirements of Financial Fair Play, the club need to ship out some of the perceived ‘deadwood’ in order to raise funds to restructure.
It is believed that 2011’s homecoming hero, Cesc Fabregas, has been thrown to the discard pile, along with various others. With a whole host of top Premier League clubs ready to pounce if this is the case, Arsene Wenger is thought to be monitoring his situation with a keen interest. But while it is thought a move back to Arsenal would be preferential for Fabregas, Arsenal should not now get sentimental over the prospect.
I shouldn’t have to clarify that Fabregas is a world-class midfielder. His presence would improve any squad in the world, and he has genuine match-winning talent. During his three years back in Barcelona he has adapted his game, becoming a more versatile individual. He has filled a variety of positions; a deeper midfield role, up top alongside Lionel Messi, an a typical ‘number 10’, and an inside-forward situated out on the left.
Now whilst his versatility is an admirable trait, his position is that of a more typical ‘number 10’ – something which Arsenal simply do not require.
With a roster of technically proficient attacking midfielders, the addition of Cesc Fabregas to their ranks would result in yet more over-crowding. His presence, whilst undoubtedly adding extra quality, could disrupt the development, and limit the playing time of the likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Aaron Ramsey. Wenger simply does not need to continue stock-piling attacking midfielders.
The club has built itself up into a position where, whilst it has significant transfer funds, they cannot afford to be flippant with their purchases in the manner that a number of super-rich clubs have been in the past.
To shell £30-35 million out on another attacking-midfielder wouldn’t suggest much prudence on the part of the club. Simply because Fabregas has emotional ties to the club, and might be available, does not mean he should be a summer priority. Making a move for the sake of sentimentality rather than necessity would feel ill-judged in the extreme.
The departure of Bacary Sagna and Lukasz Fabianski should immediately make replacing them as primary objectives this summer. The lack of a feasible striking alternative to Olivier Giroud has been a concern all season, and it was clearly a goal of last summer until moves for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez never came to fruition. Thomas Vermaelen’s tenuous position at the club could see him look to revitalise a somewhat stagnant career right now, which would lead to a chronic shortage of centre-backs.
A holding midfielder to come in for the ageing Mikel Arteta would appear necessary too, whilst the club’s lack of pace without Theo Walcott this season was highlighted by a particularly bad run of results in March, suggesting the need for another wide attacker. To place Fabregas above any of these requirements would be serious neglect on the part of Arsene Wenger.
With a transfer budget rumoured to be somewhere in the range of £60-100 million, spending a considerable portion of this on a player of Fabregas’ ilk would damage the club’s ability to compete for more necessary transfer targets.
If the Gunners are to improve this season, they need to focus on areas that lack quality in their squad. With Wilshere, Ramsey, Chamberlain, along with Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, and Tomas Rosicky, the Gunners are well-stocked in the creative department of their midfield. And whilst Fabregas’ quality is unquestionable, his necessity most certainly is.
Forget preventing rival clubs from strengthening. Forget emotions are feelings. But don’t forget what the club REALLY need this summer. While the temptation may be overwhelming, Wenger should not allow sentimentality to dictate what is another big summer for the Gunners.