It’s been a fun myth to play around with that Fabregas doesn’t actually play for Barcelona, despite him recording 41 starts last season and an extra seven from the bench. But what use are facts when you’ve got an agenda?
Barcelona have reportedly sent Manchester United a letter telling them kindly, I’m sure, that Fabregas isn’t going anywhere this summer, yet that hasn’t driven the rumours into the depths of the earth, with this morning’s rounds even going on to suggest that this one could drag on until the very end of the transfer window, probably culminating with Cesc walking through the halls of Old Trafford a la Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
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Barcelona have already made a host of mistakes under Sandro Rosell, who has overseen some very shoddy transfer dealings over the past few summers: Alex Song instead of Javi Martinez, the persistence in not buying an out-and-out centre-back, and the Thiago Alcantara mess being the pick of the bunch. But losing Fabregas now is unlikely to be another.
Fabregas is now set to work under his third manager in three years since moving to the Camp Nou, and while Pep Guardiola was one to stand by his side in that first season, there will be renewed hope that Fabregas will be given a clearer view of what his role in the team is, especially now that Thiago has moved on.
One of the criticisms of last season, both for Tito Vilanova and his assistant Jordi Roura, was their lack of rotation and even substitutions when it was necessary. Xavi continued to play until the last moments of the season, despite carrying an injury and being the wrong side of the 30. All the while, Fabregas was moved around the pitch from the false 9 to the left flank.
The positives of Fabregas last season came in the early stages of the campaign, where he registered the majority of his 11 goals and 11 assists in the league. He was the direct option over Xavi in the centre of midfield, offering an alternative to the tiki-taka style that was established under Guardiola. Going into next season, he can continue to be an asset in Gerardo Martino’s Bielsa-esque pressing system.
And then there’s the matter of Fabregas continuing to speak up his happiness at Barcelona and the complete lack of inclusion in any story linking him away. It’s not a secret that Fabregas has remained in touch with Arsene Wenger, and well before this summer began, the Arsenal manager hinted that the Spaniard could one day return to Arsenal.
As I mentioned previously, there isn’t a pressing need for Fabregas to consider options like Manchester United or any of the other big clubs in England; he has his league title and his youth that allows for time in his playing career to sensibly weigh up his options.
Could Barcelona have done more last season had Vilanova not been absent through illness? Probably. If the club are as cunning as they appear to be with the appointment of Martino, more could come next season, and that’s with the added firepower of Neymar and the likelihood of adding a genuine centre-back this summer. Despite reports, Barcelona are not strapped for cash this summer, meaning a sale of Fabregas isn’t a necessity.
I’m far from convinced that Fabregas will remain at the Camp Nou for the rest of his career, though an extension into next season seems as close to a guarantee. Politically speaking, Sandro Rosell isn’t foolish enough to let Fabregas go this summer, in spite of the mistakes he’s made in the past. A loss of two world-class midfielders when the club are already light on numbers for one reason or another would be a disaster.
But like the myth of Fabregas failing to get playing time at the Camp Nou in his two seasons there thus far, this is a story that will stubbornly continue to run. Maybe there is a thinly veiled ulterior agenda in all this. I really wouldn’t expect the Catalan media to push one of their own out of exit door in this manner.
Is Cesc Fabregas likely to return to England this summer?
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