Last summer, the protracted return of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona from Arsenal appeared inevitable to transpire this year, seeing as the midfielder reluctantly agreed to remain at the Emirates for a further season and captained the side to a sixth consecutive trophy-less campaign. Much like Cristiano Ronaldo before him, Fabregas, who has regularly declared his affinity to both Arsene Wenger and the Gunners faithful, decided to stay in the Premiership for twelve months longer than he anticipated, but unlike the Portuguese winger looks to have delayed his move to La Liga to a point where the Catalan club are losing patience.
Barcelona President, Sandro Rosell, went public last week to explain his position on the Fabregas transfer saga by playing down the Spanish international’s value. “If last summer we offered 40million Euros (£35.1million) for Cesc, since then there has been wear and tear, now he’s worth less,” said Rosell. “I don’t know what will happen, but in the case that we were interested, we won’t go mad and pay over the top.” Considering his own opinion of Fabregas’ importance to the Arsenal team, Arsene Wenger is unlikely to be deterred by Rosell’s misguided appraisal, especially as the player recently turned 24 and has his best years ahead of him, somewhat undermining the Camp Nou President’s view that ‘wear and tear’ has taken its toll.
A possible development that has been mooted by a number of sources across the continent is that of David Villa’s waning significance in Catalonia and Pep Guardiola’s willingness to consider offers for the striker. Spain’s all-time record goal-scorer only arrived at the Camp Nou a year ago and performed with the exceptional consistency that underwrites his reputation as a whole, scoring 23 times, including in games against Real Madrid, Manchester United (in the Champions League Final no less) and of course, Arsenal.
Guardiola was ruthless in removing both Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic after just a season each as Barcelona’s target man, and if the reports are accurate, he could well be looking to deal with Villa in the same cold manner. The speculation itself has been placed in a context whereby Villa’s departure is a financial prerequisite for Fabregas’ arrival, so why doesn’t Wenger acknowledge the merits of replacing a player whose contribution has waned since accepting his imminent Emirates exit with a forward of proven goal-scoring pedigree; an attribute which has been all to obviously lacking in each of the Arsenal teams of recent seasons?
Chelsea and Manchester City have been placed amongst Villa’s potential suitors already, and his availability will undoubtedly attract widespread immediate interest, but Wenger is in a better position than most to lure him to London by utilising Fabregas’ delicate situation to entice a player-plus-cash offer from Barcelona’s hierarchy. Robin van Persie’s late-season form will have done much to encourage the Frenchman heading in to next season, but Arsenal have required a natural finisher ever since Thierry Henry made the move Fabregas covets in 2007.
One point that can be made is that Villa’s inclusion in the saga has at least kept things interesting for now, but we’ll have to sit through far more discussion on the matter before any transfer is finalised and pray that it’ll all be over soon.