The two sides of the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga

The two sides of the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga

As everyone reading this already knows, Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a move to FC Barcelona this summer. Just like last summer. Or practically any time in between.

In order to find a fresh approach to the transfer rumour that relentlessly persists and just won’t go away, we’ve collaborated with Arsenal fan blog You Are My Arsenal for a series of posts looking at the possible transfer of Cesc from both angles. Our first part looks at the differing opinions of the fans concerning the possible move of Cesc. Are Arsenal fans as divided as cules on the whole issue? Read on to find out!

Editor’s note: This is an honest opinion of an Arsenal fan on behalf of Arsenal fans. Some things presented you may not agree with, which is the whole point of posting this article in the first place (to experience both perspectives). Please be respectful in the comments section. Disagreement is fine, but any comment we consider disrespectful will be reported and deleted.

You  Are My Arsenal, written by DAG (DaAdminGooner)

Recently for supporters of Arsenal, the summer is filled predominantly with two things – 1.) evaluation of what went wrong when things looked good and 2.) the continuing saga of Cesc Fabregas and will he or won’t he leave Arsenal for Barcelona. As you can see it is usually a summer filled with nail biting angst.

A lot of press speculation has occurred around the future of the Catalan skipper of the North London side. Is he going to go? Will Barcelona offer what Arsenal are asking? Which Barcelona player will appear in the press citing Fabregas’ Barcelona credentials? Will Barcelona offer up promising young talent for the prodigal son’s return? It frankly becomes tiresome, irksome and worrisome (that’s a lot of ‘somes’) for the Gunner faithful.

The Arsenal fan’s position is no longer as clear cut as it was last season. Last season when speculation was rampant in the run up to the World Cup, unanimously (okay, almost), Arsenal fans agreed that Fabregas had to stay. He is the lynchpin of the team and the foundation it is built upon. He is the leader and finally – he had just signed a contract extension until 2015.

This season the temperature is a little different. Sure, there is still a large majority that want Fabregas to stay, and their views this season are still very much the same as last. However, there has been a growing minority of fans who are openly questioning whether now is the right time to sell him and use the funds to improve the squad. Overall, the feeling with this group of fans is that if he doesn’t want to be at Arsenal, then we should let him go because the club should only have players who want to be there playing for them. It’s a fair enough argument.

It’s an argument that is getting a lot of discussion. Universally, Cesc is regarded as a phenomenal talent by all Arsenal fans. However, after the never ending transfer saga tinged with repeated long injury spells, there is now a growing level of frustration with him. It’s not a loud clamor, just a low murmur right now and frankly one that is gaining traction. On one hand it makes absolute sense why this section of Arsenal fandom wouldn’t mind selling him. It puts money in the transfer kitty, it allows for other players to step up (the emergence of Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey have helped this group of fans rationalize Cesc’s depature), it gets rid of a player a group of fans are citing as ungrateful and uncommitted.

But you just can’t get rid of talent like this. Whatever his faults are, Cesc is always capable of wonderful spells of creativity and sublime football. Look no further than Arsenal’s last win of the season against Blackpool – his passing and connection with Robin van Persie was otherworldy. No matter how much certain Arsenal players mature and develop, the type of player that Cesc Fabregas is just doesn’t come along every day. He truly is going to be one of the greatest of his generation. And that is why there is still an overwhelming majority of fans want him to stay at London Colney.

Then there is the fan reaction to FC Barcelona itself and the fan’s perception of how such a storied club has handled it self during the summer saga. Admittedly, I have to say I am shocked sometimes at the vitriol from both sides but I do understand where it comes from.

Barcelona are held up in all corners of the press and footballing world as the bastion of “getting it right.” Whether it’s the way the play their games, develop their youth or conduct their business many hold them up as the example other clubs should aspire to. But to Arsenal fans, this perception seems far from the truth. For instance, last season with the campaign for the Barcelona Presidential elections, Cesc was a visible centre piece in the election run up. A lot of what was being said was being done in the open and for Arsenal this is just not the way they do business. Arsenal are not public about any transfer dealings. So to have our captain the centre piece of a rather vocal and public transfer discussion created an impression of impropriety on behalf of Barça.

With the addition of the World Cup and Cesc’s time with the Barcelona portion of the Spanish National team, the daily comments about Cesc and his “Barca DNA” may not have been official tapping up in terms of the FIFA/UEFA definitions – but it was as pretty damn close in the eyes of the majority of Arsenal fans. It was clear to the Gunners supporters that the players were trying to make the case in the court of public opinion and unsettle the player towards formally handing in a transfer request. Throw in the rather idiotic move of putting a Barcelona shirt on Cesc’s head and it just was too much for Arsenal fans to take.

The anger felt by the fans at Barcelona’s rather open attempts to force Arsenal into the move last season only served to aggravate the fan base. Not that Barcelona are looking for fans from Arsenal’s fan base but the perception that exists right now is that Barcelona are not a club that conducts business properly. Whether that is fair assessment or not is open to debate but it is at the core of the hostilities between the two group of fans. That and the fact that we are doing the rinse, wash, repeat thing with the whole transfer saga this summer.

So Will He or Won’t He?

In the end I do not think Cesc Fabregas will move to Barcelona this summer. And this week the player pretty much insinuated as much.

Barcelona are a great team, the best team in the world right now and going there guarantees a player titles. But I owe myself to Arsenal.”

I am very happy at Arsenal … I have values and after all that I have done in eight years here, I am not going to say a word that would ruin everything. I have always acted with discretion.”

Any player who says he is not frustrated at not winning titles is lying. I am ambitious. [But] I have not spoken to the manager. He is the boss, he takes decisions and I don’t know if they want to sell me or not. This is a good team with a good manager, and with one of the most faithful fan bases in Europe. With whom I believe we can make progress and one day win an important trophy.”

Everyone sees things in a different way but in these [sorts of] decisions, not everything depends on the player. If I said anything else it would be a lie, it would give rise to speculation that is not true. Last year I maybe positioned myself in a certain way, and that was a mistake.”

Cesc Fabregas is a class person and classy player. His base was structured at La Masia and refined on the pitches of the EPL under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger. He is the player he is because of both clubs and it is clear that he is equally devoted to both.

I have no doubt in my mind that there will come a day when Arsenal fans have to bid adieu to Cesc. I don’t think that time is now.

One thing – I think we can agree on one thing – if he goes anywhere after Arsenal – its to the Camp Nou. I would ignore that whole Real Madrid nonsense.

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totalBarça, written by Watton

How do Barça fans feel about the modern day Star Wars saga that is Cesc Fabregas’ employment situation? It’s complicated.  There’s a few different angles that it has to be considered from.  There’s on-the-pitch issues, what he means to the club as a figure away from it, and less importantly, how nice it would be to not have to talk about it anymore if he would just get it over with and come.  On the whole, there’s probably no standard perspective that Barça fans share.  Which makes the topic all the more interesting.

This is probably obvious, but serves as a good starting point: midfield is not a place that Barcelona needs help with at the moment.  Xavi and Iniesta have the creating duties on lock in that part of the pitch.  Busquets, while probably more well-known to the general public for other reasons, has quietly improved a great deal in his position at the back, and that’s not really where Cesc belongs anyway.  This means that Cesc would often find himself on the bench, like he did at the World Cup.  Would he be okay with that? It might be impossible to know how he’d react until he’s in that situation for a whole season, and beyond.  Occasionally, Iniesta has been moved into a forward position because of injuries, and he and Xavi both are bound to need time off themselves at some point.  It would be nice to have Fabregas to fill in when that happens.  But that’s not what you typically buy a player of Cesc’s quality (and price) for.  At the same time though, Xavi will be turning 32 during the coming year.  It remains to be seen how much longer he will be able to maintain his current level.  Having Cesc on hand to take his place wouldn’t be terrible.

But there’s another side to that argument.  It’s not as though Cesc is the only option on hand for that role. 20-year-old youth academy product Thiago continues to make a solid case for being next in line whenever he gets a chance to show his skills with the first team.  In fact, a very popular answer among cules when asked about buying Cesc is to say “We don’t need him, we already have Thiago.”  No one sees Thiago as a better player today, but many believe he has the potential to get there, so why not have him do it with us? Buying Cesc would block his progress and possibly force him to move to another club.  Maybe that’s irrational, as Cesc has already shown what he can do.  But on the other hand, believing in the potential of younger players and getting excited about them is one of the great things about being a supporter.  It’s not easy to give that up.  This is especially true at Barça, where pride in the club’s youth academy is extraordinarily high.  Many would prefer to stick with Thiago rather than buy back a player who elected to leave the club when he was 16.

But don’t take that to mean there isn’t a great deal of pride in Cesc being Catalan and a product of La Masia.  This is without a doubt the biggest factor that has people hoping to see him in the blaugrana shirt.  To fully grasp it, you have to understand the regionalism in Catalonia.  This isn’t a political lecture, so I won’t go too deep into it.  But when there’s a Catalan player who is making a name for himself as one of the world’s finest, fans will have an extremely difficult time accepting him doing so for another club.  It’s a completely different story from seeing Fernando Torres having success in England.  The Catalan mindset is an entirely different worldview than the Spanish perspective.  They have their own language, their own traditions, and many Catalans feel persecuted by Spain, and that Catalonia should be its own state.  Out of that comes the “one of us” mindset.  Being Catalan is a special thing, Catalans stick together, and FC Barcelona is an absolutely massive part of that.  It doesn’t matter that Xavi and Iniesta are already in his position.  Cesc is a great Catalan player, and great Catalan players should be playing for Barça.  A lot of foreign supporters of the club don’t give this much thought, but make no mistake, it’s what’s driving the movement to bring Cesc back to Barça.

Of course, no one likes to talk about money unless it’s someone else’s money problems.  But it certainly comes into play here.  Sandro Rosell, the club’s president for about a year now, has made fiscal responsibility the centerpiece of his reign.  Some would say to the detriment of his reign, but that’s another story.  The main thing to understand is that Barça won’t be breaking any transfer records this summer.  Arsenal, understandably, won’t be giving Cesc away for cheap.  Is it really  a good idea to spend most of the relatively small transfer budget on a player who will often find himself among the substitutes? Most Barça fans will admit that it would probably be smarter to spend elsewhere, or even hold onto the cash.  Having a player of Cesc’s quality certainly would help the club, but again, he doesn’t fill a need.  If we’re so hard up for money that we have to sell sponsorship for the club’s shirt, what are we doing spending a large sum of money on a player who plays the position that needs help the least?

So, there’s no easy way to go here.  It’s probably fair to say that if one thinks with their head, it’s best to leave Cesc in London.  But when thinking with the heart, he’s a difficult proposition to resist.  Just ask a Barça player.  And since no one is going to stop asking them until Cesc does return, since these stories will never stop until that happens, maybe it’s best to bring him back.  It’s like a child who badly wants a toy having a little bit of money, and his parents trying to explain that the money would best be spent elsewhere.  You know the kid will be buying that toy, and as for me, I’ve grown tired of resisting him.

Photos: Getty Images