Perhaps it’s that memories are terribly short in football – it was only three years ago that Cesc Fabregas’ transfer to FC Barcelona was painted in the worst possible terms for Arsenal.
It was a sign of how far the club had fallen, a sign that Wenger had led the club astray. It’s 2014 and now Arsenal are apparently no longer in need of a 27-year-old Fabregas coming into his prime. Both conclusions are probably too extreme and it seems the truth, in life, as well as football, often lies somewhere in between.
It’s not so much that Arsenal do not need a player of Fabregas’ quality but that their need is greater in other areas. Bringing in a striker was a priority last summer and feels even more important this time around. A right-back is needed to replace the out of contract Bacary Sagna, with all reports suggesting Serge Aurier is on his way from Toulouse.
A central midfielder is also required, but one with more destructive tendencies than Fabregas. Ozil, Rosicky, Cazorla, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere could all fall into the vague ‘attacking midfielder’ bracket that Cesc also occupies. All have differing strengths, and it’s unclear whether Cesc would play as far forward as he does for Barcelona, but Arsenal are clearly are not short in this area.
However, this kind of argument didn’t stop Arsenal signing Ozil last summer. The club already had a plethora of silky midfielders that liked to operate between the lines. The logic was that Ozil’s ability put him in a bracket with a select few, and when these kind of players come available, you can’t turn them down. Cesc would surely meet this quality requirement and therefore should be a target if Arsenal were to follow the same kind of thinking.
Given the above-mentioned group of midfielders combined propensity for picking up injuries, it’s possible to paint Fabregas’ similarities in a positive light, and certainly seems unlikely that there would be too many times in the season when all are available.
That Arsenal aren’t interested in taking their former captain back to the Emirates probably says more about Aaron Ramsey than it does about Fabregas. There’s no need to further eulogize about the Welsham’s dramatic development as a footballer but what’s important is that it appears to be lasting. Ramsey picked up where he left off after his absence with injury to quell any fears that what came before was some sort of extended purple patch.
The problem with saying no to Cesc for Arsenal is that someone else gets to say yes – and the idea of Chelsea with a midfield pair of Matic and Fabregas for next season is particularly frightening. This isn’t a good enough reason to buy a player on it’s own, but it’s a factor worth consideration.
Turning down Fabregas is brave decision by Wenger and it’s easy to imagine it seeming like a bad one should Fabregas move to Stamford Bridge and Arsenal sustain a long-term injury to one their key midfielders.
However, given the rise of Ramsey and stagnation of Giroud, Arsenal could spend £30m more wisely than on their former captain. Whether they’ll break the trend of missing out on targets as they’ve done in the last two windows remains to be seen.