One of the hottest pieces of gossip making the rounds of late is that Spain international Cesc Fabregas is mulling his Barcelona future and could make a Premier League return ahead of next season, with Arsenal and Manchester United at the head of the pack for his signature, according to Andrew Dillon of The Sun.
Arsenal, of course, have first right of refusal should the 26-year-old opt to depart Camp Nou a second time.
Between 2003 and 2011, Fabregas made more than 300 appearances for the London club, but after lifting the FA Cup in 2005, he spent six years at Emirates Stadium without winning another piece of silverware.
And while his return two years ago to Barcelona, the team he joined as a 10-year-old, represented something of a homecoming, he also made no secret of the fact the Gunners needed to get back to their winning ways.
"Arsenal have to make the Emirates their home now and with their own cabinet of trophies to start all over again,” Fabregas said, via Henry Winter of The Telegraph.
That hasn’t happened, and despite a transfer kitty of as much as £70 million, a first trophy in Arsenal’s post-Highbury era will likely remain elusive a while longer.
On the cusp of his prime years and eager for meaningful, first-team football after playing second fiddle to the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and even Lionel Messi at Barcelona, Fabregas is surely desperate for a key role in a winning team, which is why Manchester United represent a much more appealing option than his former club.
According to former United left-back Denis Irwin, the Red Devils are equally keen on Fabregas.
“Cesc Fabregas has zoomed up Manchester United’s transfer target list to the top position,” he recently told Sunday World (via ESPNFC). “The Champions are going to move heaven and earth to get him.”
He added: “Fabregas is just the sort of all-action midfield player United need if they are to make a run at next season’s Champions League.”
Indeed, a move to Old Trafford would certainly make sense in football terms.
Incoming manager David Moyes already has PFA Player of the Season nominee Michael Carrick operating in a deep-lying role in the centre of the park. By placing Fabregas alongside he would complete the passer-runner combination used so often by his predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson.
United tended to struggle for midfield creativity last season, but they still managed to win the title. Adding Fabregas would almost certainly ensure the status of preseason favourites going into August.
As for Arsenal, it remains to be seen what Arsene Wenger will do with the money supposedly made available to him. But even if he has significant funds at his disposal, one former Gunner would prefer the club find someone else to spend it.
“I’m not expecting any marquee signings at Arsenal,” Stewart Robson told talkSPORT last week. “There’s a lot of talk about it, but I don’t know if I would trust Arsene Wenger with that money. Over the last few years some of the players that he’s said were going to be world class haven’t ended up like that.”
He makes a point.
In August 2011, following an 8-2 shellacking at Old Trafford, Wenger went into power-shopping mode, spending more than £16 million to bolster his defense. Only, the players he acquired—Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos—have been anything but difference-makers at the Emirates, and another player he acquired the same summer for £10 million—Ivory Coast international Gervinho—hasn’t been worth anywhere near the valuation.
In other words, even if Wenger doles out the money made available to him, recent history suggests the spending will have little impact on Arsenal’s title chances.
For Fabregas, United is a far more fascinating project—a safer bet.