Arsenal fans, before I break down the following transfer rumor, I want you to breathe. In, out. Repeat several times, taking slow, deep breaths. No hyperventilating, folks. Okay, you good?
Here goes—it seems there is a very good chance that Cesc Fabregas could return to the Gunners.
Slow breaths! I said slow breaths!
According to John Cross of the Mirror, Fabregas is considering leaving Barcelona this summer, frustrated that he often isn't included in the starting 11 for key matches. And while Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are all thought to be interested, it's Arsenal that will get first crack at their former captain.
Arsenal hold the trump card as they wrote a “first refusal” clause into Fabregas’ Barcelona deal, which was worth around £40 million in total. Two years on, the north Londoners would be able to buy Fabregas back for between £20 million and £25 million.
If Barcelona receive any offer for the player, the terms of the buy-back are that they must inform Arsenal to give them first option.
Fabregas has reservations about going to another English club, especially after seeing pal Robin van Persie become public enemy No. 1 when he gave up the Arsenal captaincy for a move to Man United.
The Spaniard has claimed he would love to rejoin the Londoners, his club from the age of 16, one day and the uncertainty about his future at Barcelona has suddenly raised the prospect.
Before we get into what a return to the Emirates would mean for Arsenal, we turn to soccer scribe Guillem Balague to splash a little cold water on this rumor:
Cesc will be at Barcelona next season and BARCELONA WILL NOT SELL HIM. It doesn't get any more definitive than this: http://t.co/qoH89qPY63— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) May 30, 2013
Via Sulia, he adds the following:
Despite all manner of rumours and counter rumours over his future, Cesc Fabregas will NOT be moving to Arsenal or Manchester United at the end of the season. Not only he is willing to stay one more year at the Catalan club, sources from the club confirm that they have no intention whatsover [sic] to sell the player. None whatsoever. This saga is over.
Thanks for making us all sad, Guillem.
Look, there's a reason reports have been surfacing in recent days about Fabregas potentially returning to England. If he is unhappy, he may yet be able to coerce a move to another club. So while I trust Balague and his source, I'm not so willing to trust that the source speaks for Fabregas.
Sure, it was always a long shot that Fabregas would return to Arsenal, and remains so, but let's break down what his return to the club would mean anyway.
Actually, let's just watch what it would mean for the Gunners.
While I think Fabregas would perfectly sit behind the striker in Arsenal's system as he did in his later years at the club—remember, he scored 28 goals for Arsenal in his last two seasons at the club and has added 28 in the same time for Barca—he could also play out wide if called upon to do so or sink deeper into the midfield.
His technical skill, smart and imaginative passing and poise on the ball would return him to the talismanic role in Arsenal's attack, and allow the club to focus on adding more pure strikers like Gonzalo Higuain rather than chasing players who operate better behind the striker, a la Stevan Jovetic.
It's pretty simple—if there is any chance for Fabregas to return to the club, the Gunners have to jump all over it. Not only must the team keep their former star away from Premier League rivals, but he would make this team much, much better.
Let's not pencil him into the starting 11 just yet, fellow Gooners. But we can dream, right?