Arsenal are amid a pivotal summer in the Arsene Wenger reign.
Not content with links to Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, Sky Sports reports the Gunners are about to enter a four-way fight to land former Emirates favourite Cesc Fabregas. The Barcelona midfielder—who exchanged the Premier League for La Liga in 2011—has been the subject of a £25 million bid from Manchester United.
Such activity leaves Arsenal no choice. Arsene Wenger has money to spend, and while landing a world-class striker should remain his priority, this is the perfect time for Wenger to call on his former captain.
With Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City reportedly tracking the Spaniard’s movements, Arsenal’s first-option buy-back clause ensures the North London club must be considered favourites for his signature if significant interest is shown.
Everyone connected to Arsenal understands the quality Fabregas possesses. He is a fine passer, lethal finisher and active worker in midfield and behind the forward line. Although overshadowed by the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi at Barcelona, the Spaniard completed 89.2 percent of his passes across 43 appearances in all competitions last season.
According to WhoScored?, Fabregas produced 11 goals and 11 assists during the 2012/13 campaign, many of which came from the false nine position.
He actively searches for defence-splitting through balls and prioritises the retention of possession with slick, free-flowing passes along the ground. The 26-year-old played an impressive 1.6 key passes per match last season, a number that puts him ahead of Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi.
The prospect of a Fabregas return should excite Gunners fans. Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla continue to form an effective relationship across the Arsenal midfield, and while Aaron Ramsey improved across the final weeks of the 2012/13 season, the addition of another world-class midfielder would considerably bolster the team’s search for silverware.
Although Ramsey would relinquish his position in the starting lineup, the reappearance of Fabregas would flaunt a strength-in-depth that has long been missing from the resident fourth-place occupiers. The likes of Wilshere and Abou Diaby continued to suffer with injury problems last season, forcing Wenger into a number of unwanted changes.
With Fabregas added, Arsenal would not only boast a midfield quartet to rival the best, it would ensure the Frenchman has added quality coming on from the bench. His transfer would end an era of mishaps, bad signings and wasted potential, culminating in a trio of Spanish players that naturally maintain the Arsenal ethos of free-flowing, stylish football. For Wilshere, working alongside this kind of natural flair would be invaluable.
Qualities aside, Fabregas’ potential move to Arsenal would signal an earth-shattering shift in how the club’s transfer policy is viewed. Although Santi Cazorla was landed for a minimal £15 million from cash-strapped Malaga, Wenger hasn’t spent big on a truly world-class talent in recent memory. Granted, Samir Nasri falls into that category and cost the Gunners £12 million, but with a fee around the £30 million mark, Fabregas is a completely different commitment.
Nabbing Fabregas from under the nose of Manchester United is the biggest signifier of all. The Old Trafford club recently captured the Premier League title with Arsenal old boy Robin van Persie firing in 26 goals—a player who decided he could never win the domestic title at the Emirates. As B/R's Will Tidey suggests, the champions owe Arsenal a break or two:
If Fabregas dons the famous red and white once more, it will not only suggest Arsenal now have the financial clout to compete with world football's transfer market elite, but it would also indicate Wenger's men are finally ready to significantly challenge on the pitch.
Will Cesc Fabregas return to Arsenal? Should Wenger utilise Arsenal's first option? Let me know in the comments section and be sure to discuss it with me on Twitter: