It will be seen as the ultimate act of betrayal, surpassing anything remotely associated with heartbreak. There was an understanding in Cesc Fabregas wanting to return home to Barcelona; there is simply no excuse for him choosing to join Manchester United.
There are few similarities between Fabregas and Robin van Persie. The former has just won his first league title with Barcelona and has many years at the top of the European game. The latter, at 29, was approaching his final big contract and the last real opportunity to land major silverware. Even if you dismiss the manner in which van Persie left Arsenal, you can find an understanding as to why he left when he did. With Fabregas, where is the sense in moving to Manchester United and permanently breaking the affinity held with many of Arsenal’s supporters?
But shouldn’t there also be a question as to whether Arsenal would allow it? There has been plenty of talk about buy-back clauses and sell-on fees, but given the opportunity to re-sign Fabregas, would Arsene Wenger really entertain the idea of letting him slip through the net given his current economic strength? Furthermore, what does it say about Arsenal’s position in the Premier League, once again losing out on an important figure to rival clubs?
There is some weight to the story that Fabregas may want to leave Barcelona this summer. A lack of significant playing time and an uncertainty as to what his role may be in the coming seasons have raised the option of whether a move away would be best for his career. He has struggled to replace Xavi when it mattered, and when positioned on the left side of the attack, Fabregas just doesn’t offer the same attacking outlet as either Andres Iniesta or David Villa. Where his initial position either alongside Lionel Messi or in place of the Argentinian worked well, the arrival of Neymar this summer means it’s unlikely he’d be seen as an option in the central forward role.
Alongside that, however, is the case to be made that Fabregas could remain with Barcelona, even if only for another season. It’s already quite clear that the club plan to offload David Villa and a number of fringe and youth players, including Thiago Alcantara if a club comes in with an offer. That would leave Barcelona light in the midfield, and despite their position in world football, Barcelona do not have a glittering record in the transfer market over recent years. The question is whether they’ll allow themselves to be weakened to such an extent.
It may also be worth noting that with Pep Guardiola’s departure, the draw of playing for Barcelona isn’t as strong as it once was for Fabregas. That’s not to say Guardiola was the only reason he was there, but the former manager was seen as an ally to Fabregas and someone who would offer him a clear path in his career at the Camp Nou.
But should a transfer to Manchester United take place, Fabregas can more or less be guaranteed of silverware. The successful partnership with van Persie will be rekindled and the responsibility of leading a team on the field won’t fall solely on his shoulders in the way it did at Arsenal. At 26, it can also be argued that Fabregas may be enticed by the new era at Old Trafford and the possibility of taking on a lead role in a new ‘project.’
Yet it should never be undermined that Fabregas would permanently burn the bridges between himself and Arsenal. Regardless of the nature of his move to Barcelona, there is still an overwhelming majority of Arsenal supporters to who would take Fabregas back at the club. He remains an icon in the modern makeup of Arsenal, becoming the natural leader and poster boy of the ‘youth era’ under Wenger at the Emirates. Despite the frustrations and lack of silverware during those years, there is still a solid foundation with which to continue building in the future.
In light of all that and regardless of what Arsenal fans think of Fabregas, it may be worth asking whether the player himself would consider a move to Manchester United and turn his back permanently on Arsenal.
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