Cesc Fabregas knew the risk he was taking when he opted to swap The Emirates for the Nou Camp last summer.
Fabregas had a home in North London for life he so wanted it. Club captain and icon, adored by the fans, and central to Arsene Wenger’s vision for the club.
However, Fabregas opted for a move ‘back home’ and currently finds himself on the fringes of the Barcelona side, and seemingly frustrated. He let on as much during an interview with Catalan Radio last week saying: ‘There’s no such thing as a great substitute in the world of football”, prompting rumours he may be seeking a move away from the Nou Camp.
Fabregas has been quick to quash these rumours, saying he is fully aware what he signed up for:
‘I said when I signed here that it was going to be the most exciting and difficult challenge of my life. I knew I was coming to compete for a place against the best players in the world. But I like big challenges.
‘If I didn’t I would have stayed at Arsenal where I was the captain, where I played every game and where I was treated so well.
‘I have a big heart, a strong character and I have the courage to carry on competing for my place.’
It begs the age old question as to whether the pitfalls a big move poses is worth the risk. Is a players medal collection more important than playing regularly?
It appears the answer to most is yes. Numerous times over the years players have been offered big money moves and taken them, regardless of whether they are guarenteed a regular first team place.
Fernando Torres is a prime example having swapped Liverpool for Chelsea in January 2011. Torres had become disillusioned with life on Merseyside following three and a half seasons without silverware.
The Spaniard was idolised at Anfield, and Liverpool had no intention to sell. Luis Suarez was bought in to play alongside Torres, and you wonder had he stayed at the club offering him regular first team football, what might have been for Liverpool, especially with the prospect of such a tantalizing partnership up top.
However 18 months later, despite not gaining a regular first team place at Chelsea, Torres found himself with an FA Cup and Champions League winners medal around his neck, facts that surely justify his decision.
When he looks back at his career, he will look at the medals he won, and not the minutes he spent on the pitch.
Just as Michael Owen will look at the Premier League winners medal he picked up at Manchester United, rather than the hate mail he received from Liverpool fans for moving to one of their deadliest rivals, only to sit on the bench week in week out.
In an ideal world, clubs and fans would hope for more loyalty from players, and pray for the idea that playing regularly for a club that values you is what all footballers aspire for.
Sadly this is not the case, and never will be. A footballers career is short, and money and success is valued higher than regular first team football and loyalty. A one club man, the likes of Steven Gerrard are a dying breed. It is unsure whether there will be another of his calibre ever again.
Cesc Fabregas is not the first to move to a big club and lose his first team place, and he most certainly will not be the last. Former teammates Alexsander Hleb, Matthieu Flamini and Thierry Henry all left thinking the grass would be greener on the other side. Whilst Henry had a short successful stint at Barcelona, the likes of Hleb and Flamini struggled for regular first team football, and their careers have since stalled.
Fabregas will comfort himself by thinking that if he finishes his career at the Nou Camp with a healthy medal collection, he will no doubt feel his time spent on the substitutes bench was vindicated.
Although there will always be that nagging doubt of what could have been achieved had he and so many others stayed where they were playing regular football and were highly valued.