Just how much is Cesc Fabregas really worth?

With the transfer story that keeps on giving showing no signs of slowing down any time soon, Cesc Fabregas’s laborious and protracted move back to his boyhood club Barcelona finally looks like happening in the foreseeable future. But just how much is the Arsenal captain really worth?

Arsenal are thought to have rejected an offer in the region of £27m for Fabregas within the last week or so, which is a serious devaluation of the supposed £35m that the Catalan club had bid for him last summer.

Barcelona President Sandro Rosell said as much arguing: “If last summer we offered £35m, and since then he has a year less on his contract, it is evident that this year he is worth less.” It’s clear that Barcelona’s need for the player is not great and that they are perfectly willing to bide their time with the move, for it is one that is as inevitable as the day is long.

Fabregas, to his credit at least, has never hidden his desire for the move. Nor, it is worth mentioning has he acted disrespectfully to Arsenal or Arsene Wenger despite the constant haranguing over the issue.

But, Rosell’s words seem to hint that should Arsenal continue to hold onto their man, then Fabregas will be reluctant to sign a new deal, meaning that Arsenal are playing a dangerous game and time is not on their hands. Whereas last summer Arsenal were the club holding all the cards, the tables have since turned and Barcelona now appear in control of the matter.

Arsenal have wistfully been rumoured to be looking for roughly £60m for Fabregas – a bargaining tactic at most it has to be said. They are apparently willing to accept in the region of £45m for Fabregas, but is he really even worth that?

Fabregas is a fantastic player. There, I’ve said it. You can quote me verbatim on that one if you like. So, the ‘you’re biased’ brigade that will inevitably treat whatever I write from hereon as nonsensical bile can at least pipe down for a bit. Please. No? Okay then.

Despite obviously being a hugely saleable asset at the club’s disposal it’s worth noting just how injury-prone Fabregas has become in the past few seasons. Just what do Arsenal do to these players that makes them so injury-prone? Fabregas has failed to start 30 league games or more in the past three Premier League seasons. To put it another way, how can they deem a player worthy of a £45m transfer fee when it is inevitable that he will miss large portions of the seasons through injury?

A player is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for them. In essence, all transfer fees are now are prospective clubs buying players out of their long-term contracts, so the approach and reasoning behind Rosell’s valuation of the player would appear to hold up.

It’s become a pub debate for the ages – just where does Fabregas fit into Barcelona’s plans? He has been seen as the heir apparent for both potential club and his country to the immeasurably brilliant Xavi Hernandez for nearly half a decade now.

However, whenever tasked with fulfilling a slightly deeper role at Arsenal, Fabregas’s performances have always been somewhat subdued. In reality, he is more of a like-for-like copy of Andres Iniesta, with arguably more end product to his game.

His estimated value to Arsenal is quite rightfully high, for he is one of their only two genuine world-class players – the other being Robin Van Persie. His worth to them is around the £45m mark, but this is a market completely distorted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid in 2009.

Ronaldo is a freak of nature. A one-man team wherever he goes it appears. A colossal talent only surpassed in the last 20 years or so by Lionel Messi and possibly even his Brazilian namesake. In short, he may have cost £80m, but could you honestly argue that he isn’t worth it? Of course you couldn’t. Fabregas being worth £45m and upwards though is another question entirely.

The fact that a preposterously rich President was willing to pay such an astronomical sum of money for him does not mean that this is the barometer by which all future transfer activity should be conducted by. It appears that the current market now measures all future transfers of world-class players by the fee paid for Ronaldo and this is simply the wrong way to judge things.

Xabi Alonso moved to Real Madrid for £30m in 2009 and you could argue that Fabregas is a player of similar quality and should therefore command a similar fee to that of the former Liverpool man. Of course that is not quite how the market works, but that seems to be the way that things are done these days since the Ronaldo deal.

Arsenal are well within their rights to drive a hard bargain for a player that they wish to keep. However, it has become clear that Fabregas’s heart is not completely attuned to the Arsenal cause anymore. His head has been turned. Barcelona will be perfectly willing to play the waiting game for another season and with it drive the potential price down even further.

The time to sell Fabregas for a huge sum has passed – his stock has fallen somewhat and if Arsenal truly wanted to cash in on their prized asset, then the time was last summer, not this one.

Barcelona have no pressing need for Fabregas, despite his undoubted quality. They are supremely well-stocked in the areas where he is most comfortable and a move for Alexis Sanchez makes more sense at the moment for them. They seem to revive their interest out of nothing more than routine these days.

Barcelona and Arsenal have been dancing this dance for one summer too many. As a result, Fabregas’s market value simply isn’t as much as either it was last year or Arsenal hope it is now. Until Arsenal realise that the ship to cash in on their skipper has rather unfortunately sailed, they’ll simply have an unhappy player on their hands whose value continues to fall every passing year he spend at the club.

A deal around the £30-35 mark would appear to be a fair price for all those concerned; if Arsenal continue to rather unrealistically ask for more though, then they’ll only be hurting themselves in the long-run in the century’s most inevitable transfer.

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