It’s recently been
rumoured that Cesc Fabregas may be returning to Arsenal in the summer. Whilst
I’m not his biggest fan, after he went on strike and was quite unprofessional
about leaving the Emirates, I’d still take him back in a heartbeat.
Cesc is a player who has the potential to be world class; in
fact, he was close to world class at Arsenal. He hasn’t really kicked on as
footballer, as is the case for most who leave the Arsenal. Sure, he’s won
trophies with Barcelona, but he hasn’t really developed further as a player.
This is because he doesn’t fit Barcelona’s system.
The signing of Fabregas is one that smacks of arrogance from
Barcelona. They saw he was making waves and used the fact that he still
harboured love for the club to lure him back. In truth, they didn’t need
Fabregas. He was always seen as the heir to Xavi, who still has a few years in
him and had even more back when Fabregas joined. He was signed in an era where
Barcelona were the best team in Europe and had a midfield of World Cup winners
who were, arguably, the best midfielders in Europe – Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
He was never going to get in ahead of them, and he wasn’t going to particularly
play as a defensive midfielder. If that was the initial plan, it was quickly
quashed when Sergio Busquets burst onto the scene and started to show why he’s
now dubbed the best defensive midfielder in Europe.
Fabregas was signed far too early. In fact, the signing of
Fabregas should’ve happened this summer. Xavi’s been on and off with injuries
far too much this season, which has led to Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara sometimes
starting ahead of him. So, in hindsight, it would’ve made sense for Barcelona
to sign Fabregas this summer; he would’ve been world class and they’d have had
a ready-made, almost perfect, replacement for Xavi.
At this current moment, Fabregas doesn’t fit in to the
Barcelona formation and system. If he plays in the midfield, it’s usually
because one of Iniesta or Xavi is injured. If that isn’t the case, Fabregas’
inclusion in the first XI seems forced; if he starts as a midfielder, Iniesta
is often put out wide which really hampers Barcelona’s system as it’s renowned
for goal-scoring, direct wingers. Iniesta going out wide means Barca lose such
an influential figure down the middle to someone who, no disrespect to
Fabregas, isn’t on the same level as him. The other position Fabregas can
occupy is as the ‘false nine’, where he’ll only feature if the game means
nothing to Barcelona or if Lionel Messi (very rarely up until this season) is
injured. When he plays in this position, forgetting he’s an obvious downgrade to
Messi as most would be, he slows down Barcelona’s fluid passing and movement in
the final third. He doesn’t make runs that Messi would make and struggles to
play in that position; this, in turn, leads to David Villa being the most
advanced forward with Fabregas dropping deep.
Despite how talented he was at Arsenal, Fabregas has
regressed at Barcelona. It isn’t because he’s not had enough game time, but
it’s for the pure fact that he doesn’t fit into their system. It seems as
though he’s almost forced into the first XI just so that he can get some
occasional game time.
A move away from Camp Nou could revitalise Fabregas’ career,
but is he ready to leave “home” in order to improve as a player? There won’t be
a shortage of teams interested, and one of those should be us. Fabregas would
walk right into a club where the formation used is still the one which was
built around him. He’d take next to no time to adapt as he’s still loved by
many fans here (not myself, personally) and also knows the league very well;
he’d still be under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger, which would definitely play
a massive part in the move. A potential trio of Spanish midfielders – Santi
Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Cesc – would be dreamy, but I’m still sceptical and
whether Fabregas would return. If he gets an offer from Manchester United,
Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain (reported interested teams), why would he
choose us? Sure, he’s got ties here and was once a hero for some, but would he
go the other way like Robin van Persie and choose ‘ambition’ and ‘trophies’ over
the club which created him into the player that he is today?