The first glimpse Arsenal fans will have of Cesc Fabregas this season will not be at this weekend’s Emirates Cup, being part of the victorious Spain squad has meant the Arsenal captain will still be on holiday during the tournament. Rather Fabregas’ first appearance in front of the Gunners faithful will be on the club’s member’s day on Thursday 5th August, when the squad will be participating in an open training session and fans will have Q&A sessions with the players. Around 10,000 fans are expected to attend the event so it should be a barometer of how Cesc Fabregas is likely to be welcomed after his long flirtation with Barcelona. After stating that he wanted to leave Arsenal for the Catalan club, it will be interesting to see whether any boo’s will be ringing out in the Emirates as Fabregas trains with his teammates.
It is probably a safe bet that some fans will boo Fabregas during the event, however they are likely to be a minority. Most Arsenal fans still love their captain, who has been the team’s talisman in the last few seasons. Most also understand that Barcelona is Fabregas’ boyhood club, and that for him to want to return there is not totally unreasonable. The anger over the summer’s biggest transfer saga is not with Cesc Fabregas, but with the club chasing him; Barcelona. Their open courting of the player where half the squad seemed to say that Fabregas should join them at the Nou Camp has left a bitter taste in the mouth of fans and the club’s hierarchy. As a result of Barcelona’s less than diplomatic overtures, Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board have refused to budge over the deal. Only a titanic bid would have been considered, and now that Barcelona’s financial problems have come to light this is no longer a viable option for the Spanish giants.
The sole issue that some Arsenal fans will have with Fabregas is the fact that he admitted he wanted to move. Indeed at the beginning of the season some boo’s may be the result of this, but Fabregas always acted with professionalism and never disrespected Arsenal, so any ill feeling is likely to peter out over the season. The shirt incident where Barcelona players Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique ambushed Fabregas by throwing the Barcelona shirt over his head, accompanied by a braying Pepe Reina, will not be something that Arsenal fans use to attack their captain. He was clearly embarrassed by the incident and was not comfortable wearing the shirt; in fact he appeared to be struggling to take it off. Again the event sparked anger not with Cesc Fabregas, but with Puyol, Pique and Pepe Reina, himself a former Barcelona player.
The transfer saga is beginning to mirror that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s protracted move to Real Madrid. Like Barcelona Real Madrid incensed Manchester United with their unhidden desire to sign the player, with the club’s chairman declaring how much he would love to bring Ronaldo to the Bernabeu at any invitation. Like Arsenal, Man Utd subsequently refused to negotiate, and the Portuguese remained at the club for another season. A small minority of United fans showed their displeasure, but this quickly evaporated as Ronaldo played a crucial part in the Red Devils title winning season. Cesc Fabregas will stay at Arsenal this season, and he will be forgiven by the fans, but many now have a feeling this will be the last season their captain plays for the club. Similarly to Cristiano Ronaldo, it is likely that Cesc Fabregas will play one last season in England, before moving to Barcelona next summer. For now though, Arsenal fans will cheering on the club’s skipper as they enter a new season.
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