Reports in the media have been linking former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas with a return to the Emirates in the summer. Fabregas started his career as a youngster at Barcelona before leaving them to join the Gunners at the age of 16 in 2003.
Within a year, Fabregas was in the first-team at Arsenal and started in the 2005 FA Cup Final win against Manchester United. A year later, he started in the Champions League Final defeat against his former club Barcelona. Cesc continued to play an important role for the club, a role that became even more important in November 2008, when he was appointed club captain after William Gallas was stripped of the role.
Despite having some very good players at the club, such as Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Andrei Arshavin and Fabregas himself to name a few, Arsenal still couldn’t win a trophy. They had close calls, making a couple of Finals and semi-finals as well as being top of the Premier League for much of the 2007/08 season before eventually falling apart late in the season.
By 2010, Fabregas was being linked with a move back home. As Spain won the World Cup that summer, Fabregas was forced into a Barcelona shirt by Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol and Arsenal rejected a £30m bid from Barcelona that summer. The rumours persisted throughout the year and as Arsenal went trophyless in 2011, despite being in contention for four trophies for most of the season, Fabregas returned to his boyhood team for a fee that could rise as high as £35m.
Since moving back to the Nou Camp 2 years ago, Fabregas has been in and out of the team. That was probably to be expected, with Barcelona being the best team in Europe in recent years. Whilst yes this season hasn’t been as successful, over the last 5-10 years, Barcelona have ruled Europe and are cruising towards the La Liga title once again this year.
The fact that Fabregas hasn’t played all the time has led to the media speculating about his future at the club. There are many clubs reportedly interested in him, but Fabregas has always said if he was to return to the Premier League it could well be Arsenal anyway if he is to leave Barcelona again. He certainly loves the club, but he loves Barcelona too.
There are many things I consider as factors in this possible transfer. Below are a list of things I have considered:
His age: Fabregas broke into the Arsenal team at 17. He seems as though he has been around forever, but he has only just turned 26. There’s plenty of fuel left in his tank and he can play at the top level for near on another 10 years or so.
Xavi; Xavi is 33. He only has a few more years left in him, surely?. Fabregas might get more chances when Xavi retires or leaves Barcelona. That might be what he waits for, to see how many chances he will get then. Of course, Barcelona could go and sign a player to replace him immediately after he leaves and Fabregas would be in the same position he is now.
His price: Make no mistake, Barcelona would want most, if not all of the fee that they paid Arsenal for Fabregas. Unless his contract at Barcelona expires and then Wenger signs him on a free, it is difficult to see Arsenal paying £30m+ for a player they’ve already had.
Buy back option?: In the reports linking him with a return to the Emirates, some have suggested that Arsenal have a buy back option for Fabregas as part of the deal that took him to Barcelona two years ago. I do remember hearing something like that back when it happened, so it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m not sure if as part of that buy back clause, a fee was set back then too.
He’s only been there two years: Fabregas hasn’t been back at Barcelona too long. It’s been 2 years. Surely they would have had a plan for him when they signed him e.g. he will be a key player once Xavi is gone?!. Why bail on the deal after two years?. Has it really not worked out?. I’m no La Liga expert and I don’t watch enough of it to comment on Fabregas’ involvement at Barcelona myself. Personally I look at the figures and don’t think he’s not played at all. He’s not like an Alexander Hleb or Alex Song who went there and were on the bench pretty well all the time. Fabregas has been involved in Barcelona’s success in the last two years, just he’s not going to start every game like he did at Arsenal. That was a given though when he signed, right?.
Stay another year or two, see how it plays out: My personal opinion is that Fabregas will stay at Barcelona at least one more year. I think he will see how many chances he gets in the team at Barcelona, whether he is warming the bench more often than not and then decide in 2014. Perhaps he will wait longer too, but I’d be very surprised if he left the club after just 2 seasons.
Everyone seems to be playing it cool. When Arsene Wenger was asked about the possibility of a Fabregas return prior to the QPR game, he said the following:
“No, it is not a short term option [for him to return]. The short-term option for us is to just to focus on tomorrow’s game and finish the season well. That’s the short term option!” - Arsene Wenger on Cesc Fabregas: Quotes – Arsenal.com
Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova said the following on Fabregas’ future:
“He will continue [at Barcelona], unless he asks to leave or the club receives an irresistible bid.” – Tito Vilanova on Cesc Fabregas’ future at Barcelona: Quotes – Barca Stuff
Fabregas himself had something to say on the subject himself:
“I do not know what is being said and even what is written,”
“I can only say that I alone know my own future.” Cesc Fabregas on his future: Quotes – Sky Sports
Nobody has said that Fabregas is definitely staying in those quotes, not even the player himself. He hasn’t come out and said “I’m staying at Barcelona, forget about it” and his manager whilst saying he wants him to stay has opened up the door to a possible exit. Wenger made a joke when asked about Fabregas returning, perhaps he was just trying to avoid actually answering the real question?. Interesting quotes for sure.
So the answer to the title of this piece is yes. Fabregas could return to Arsenal, but I don’t think it will happen this summer personally. I would welcome him back if it happens though, despite the way he acted to seal his move back home. Despite winning trophies at Barcelona, even with medals, the grass isn’t always greener.