Barcelona president Joan Laporta is set to stand down at the end of the season and the race to replace him is starting to hot up. As each candidate attempts to gain the backing of the Catalan fans, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas continues to be used as a bargaining tool in the battle to be elected. The Spaniard will be used to this by now and despite stressing his commitment to the Gunners on several occasions, Fabregas still remains the number one target for Barca. So will Arsenal ultimately become a victim of Barcelona’s presidential campaign this summer and lose Fabregas in the political struggle for supremacy?
In the Premier League presidential campaigns remain an alien concept, but in La Liga they are a regular part of the running of the top sides. Real Madrid re-elected Florentino Perez back in June due to his financial promises, and Perez in turn spent over £200 million to bring Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Raul Albiol to the Bernabeu. In these presidential campaigns in Spanish football, many promises are made to make the candidates seem like the ideal man for the job. This is where Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas comes in, as the men after the top job at Barcelona are using him as a pawn in their campaigns.
Fabregas is being used in the campaign not just by a candidate, but also by the outgoing Joan Laporta who is looking to make a mark at the end of his tenure. There is much tension between Laporta and candidate Sandro Rosell and they will both be looking to get one up on each other. Laporta is quoted by The Sun saying “Cesc Fabregas is desired for us for many reasons. Barcelona have decided to fight for the kid for next season.” Thus Laporta is letting it be known that he is chasing the Arsenal midfielder and will look to sign him in principle before Rosell pledges to buy Fabregas if he is elected after the World Cup. But where does this leave Arsenal?
Even though Fabregas himself has previously stated that the speculation doesn’t affect him, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must be increasingly frustrated by the news coming from the Nou Camp club. While Wenger is concentrating on getting Arsenal up the Premier League table, the last thing he needs is for Barcelona officials to chirp up with their interest in his captain. Surely it is essentially wrong to declare your interest in a player when he is perfectly happy at his current club and can only serve to unsettle Fabregas. Should publicly stating your intentions to sign players in manifestos be treated the same way as tapping up, or is it part and parcel of European football and something we just have to put up with?
It is looking increasingly likely that Barcelona are not going to take ‘no’ for an answer in their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, as Barcelona officials battle each other for the kudos of bringing the £40 million rated Arsenal midfielder to the Nou Camp. Once Laporta and Rossel have said in their manifestos that Fabregas is the man they are targeting, then anything other than his signature next summer will be regarded as a failure to follow through on their promises. So Arsenal look set to fall victim to the Barcelona presidential campaign next year, but is there anything the Gunners can do to keep Fabregas at The Emirates or is the Spaniard’s departure inevitable?