FC Barcelona: Cesc Fabregas Report Card for 2011
Cesc Fabregas' Barcelona move is full of positives for the club. On the pitch, he has had some cracking performances since putting on the Barcelona shirt. Off the pitch, the former graduates of La Masia is delighted to be reunited with a childhood friend.
For Fabregas himself, the transfer has proved very fruitful despite dissenting voices questioning the need for a third world class midfielder on a team that already boasted the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
Here, we are taking a closer look at how Fabregas' move has impacted himself and Barcelona. We will be scrutinizing his adaptability, the goals he has scored, the assists has has made and his overall link-up play. Finally, we will see if his transfer value of nearly €34 million without variables was justified.
At Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas was usually deployed as a central midfielder. After moving to Barcelona, he has undergone a radical shift in his playing position. Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has deployed Fabregas predominantly in a more advanced attacking midfielder position.
Despite being thrust into a new role, Fabregas has impressed. He has displayed movement and intelligent passing, which are both attributes needed to play as an attacking midfielder. He has also played in the "false nine" role predominantly played by Lionel Messi.
Some matches where this role of Fabregas proved crucial were:
Barcelona 2-2 Valencia: Here, Fabregas played predominantly in the hole just behind Messi. He shifted a little deeper in the second half, but scored a crucial goal for Barcelona that meant that they were spared the ignominy of a rival defeat.
Barcelona 5-0 Villarreal: This was possibly Fabregas' best performance in his new role. He scored once and assisted one goal while playing in an advanced position just behind Messi.
In addition to the more attacking role, Fabregas has also featured as part of Barcelona's three-man forward line. With such versatility on display, Fabregas can be assured of starting a large majority of Barcelona's matches in future.
If Xavi and Andres Iniesta ever had a weakness, it would probably be their relative inability to score a large number of goals. Barcelona have, therefore, had to rely too much on their front three to score the bulk of their goals so far. Fabregas has managed to alleviate some of this dependency.
In 21 appearances for Barcelona so far, Fabregas has scored 11 goals. He also holds the record for the most number of goals for a new midfielder at Barcelona, with his whirlwind return of four goals in his first four Barcelona matches.
While the goal tally is impressive in itself, what really makes Fabregas' contribution even more important is the importance of some of his goals. He scored in Barcelona's 3-1 away victory over bitter rivals Real Madrid. He scored a very crucial equalizer against Valencia, which saved Barcelona two valuable points in the La Liga title race. He also finished off the European Super Cup final against Porto with a late goal that sent Barcelona 2-0 up with only 10 minutes to go.
With Fabregas scoring steadily in all competitions this season, FC Barcelona may be able to survive the long-term absence of star striker David Villa.
Cesc Fabregas has made eight assists in his short time at FC Barcelona. When combined with his impressive tally of 11 goals in 21 appearances, we can see that he has scored or assisted a goal at a ratio of a little less than one per match.
Fabregas currently ranks third in the team in terms of assists made, with only Lionel Messi (15) and Dani Alves (nine) having made more assists than him.
The most impressive part of this statistic is the fact that Fabregas has managed to clock up so many key passes and assists despite not playing in any one particular position in the lineup. Despite having a role which changes from match to match, Fabregas has managed to excel.
An area where Cesc Fabregas has really shined is his overall link-up play with the rest of the team. In particular, he and Lionel Messi have formed a partnership that would leave most defenses praying for relief.
Fabregas' passing and movement is just what Barcelona needed to make them even better. His willingness to play whatever role is needed makes him a very valuable asset to the team.
One of Fabregas' signature moves is when he gets in between two different lines of defenders with a burst of pace to receive a pass. This sort of movement capitalizes on Messi's ability to spot a diagonal pass. We saw this most notably in Barcelona's European Super Cup win over Porto, where Fabregas latched onto a chipped diagonal pass from Messi after beating the entire defense with a burst of pace.
Another similar instance of this was his first league goal against Villarreal.
Barcelona signed Cesc Fabregas for an initial fee of £29 million (€34 million) with a further £4 million (€5 million) in variables. When compared to his market value of £47.5 million as listed on transfer market authority site transfrmarket.co.uk, we can see that Barcelona's technical staff managed to get themselves a real bargain.
To look at just how good Fabregas' price is, one should look at some of the other transfers that took place in the same transfer window: Javier Pastore cost Paris Saint-Germain a cool €45 million, while Sergio Aguero cost Manchester City a similar amount.
In such a scenario, Fabregas' transfer can be considered a fantastic bargain for the club. He is proving to be worth every penny that Barcelona has spent.