Barcelona's late-season crisis seems to be worsening by the day, and as we get closer to the end of the current campaign, we're starting to get a clearer picture of where some of the fallout might land.
Recent events seem to indicate it will not end well for Cesc Fabregas, formerly one of the team's most popular players.
As reported by the Daily Mail's Pete Jenson, the Spanish midfielder was jeered loudly during his team's 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on the weekend, and despite comments from both his manager Gerardo Martino and club legend Andres Iniesta, it appears his time with the club might soon be coming to an end.
Martino seemed convinced his player would not be pushed into hiding by the fans:
All I can say is Cesc is someone who has never hidden. He always wants to play and he is someone who has no fear.
In the same report, Iniesta seemed to think it was a one-off and something Fabregas shouldn't take personally:
Let’s hope it was just an isolated incident. I don’t think the supporters have anything personal against Cesc.
But amidst reported interest from foreign clubs such as Manchester United, per Metro's Jamie Sanderson, the fans' decision not to show any support to the local product seems to indicate the player might be on his way out of Catalonia regardless:
According to various reports in Spain, Fabregas has been told that he will be part of a squad clear out this summer – and if a suitable offer arrives he can leave.
Fabregas has failed to impress since re-joining boyhood club Barca, having found himself playing out of position on many occasions.
United are thought to value the Spain star at about £25 million and could now make a new bid at the end of the season, in the hope he can fill their creative midfield void.
While the former Arsenal man has endured lots of criticism during the 2013-14 season, his play has not been as bad as fans would have you believe. With Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta firmly entrenched as the starting central midfielders, Fabregas has often been forced to play out of position, out on the wing or as a false nine.
And while his performances haven't been spectacular, they haven't necessarily been bad either. He still has nine goals and 13 assists, per WhoScored.com, and he's still completing roughly 87 percent of his passes. Those are very good numbers for a player who has supposedly "failed to impress."
But the Blaugrana are going through a difficult phase right now, and should the team's transfer ban be lifted, a move abroad would still be in Fabregas' best interest.
While the player would seem to be a natural heir to Xavi and Iniesta's positions in midfield when the two maestros eventually decide to call it quits, the 26-year-old Fabregas has come to a point in his career where he'll either play and become a team's unquestioned leader in midfield or sit and wait for another chance with Barca that might never arrive.
The fans no longer seem to be standing in his corner (just take a look at those tweets below), and with reports the team would be willing to move him for a sizeable fee (United would reportedly offer £25 million, per Sanderson), you have to wonder how much longer he could act as the heir apparent to those midfield positions before the club decides to bring in fresh blood.
And how bad is Fàbregas, though. Baffles me how he keeps his place in the team. Nevermind; I don't even get the point why Barça bought him.— San (@Zizouology) April 17, 2014
I was never a fan of Fabregas and was against his move to Barcelona. While he has shown some good moments, the guy is bad for us.— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) April 17, 2014
Fabregas' best option would be to follow the path Kaka took and make the move to Italy's Serie A. While it is debatable whether or not the Spanish international could now cope with the physicality of the English game, the slower pace of the Serie A would suit his passing skills like a glove.
Internazionale's Walter Mazzarri could work wonders with the 26-year-old midfielder, and his team has a strong need for a creative midfielder with Esteban Cambiasso nearing retirement and Mateo Kovacic failing to impress and reportedly being linked with a move away from the club, per FIFA.com:
Kaka has helped make AC Milan watchable this season, and it has done wonders for his career which seemed to be as good as over during his final season with Real Madrid. Just a few months later, Bleacher Report's Christopher Atkins thinks Kaka has an actual chance of going to the World Cup.
Should Fabregas consider leaving Barcelona?
Fabregas could have an even greater impact on Inter than Kaka had on Milan, providing the team with some much-needed stability and someone who could play in support of Hernanes as more of a distributor.
Powered by those two, the Nerazzurri could make a very quick jump back to the elite of Italian football.
The Spanish international could be a hero in Italy or he could be a villain in Catalonia. Boyhood club or no, the choice should be a simple one.