Manchester United could be about to enter one of the busiest transfer windows they've had for years, whether or not rumours of Louis Van Gaal becoming the new manager are true.
Cesc Fabregas has been a major target for the Red Devils during the last two windows, and recent rumours put the Spaniard at the head of the incoming transfers list once again.
However, Van Gaal or A.N.Other, could have competition for Fabregas' signature from their local rivals.
According to Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express, Manchester City's technical director Txiki Begiristain is a confirmed admirer of a player he signed for Barcelona and would sign him for the Citizens "with his eyes closed."
Whilst there is no doubting Fabregas' quality, question marks must continue to be asked as to his suitability for a role in the United midfield, especially if Van Gaal is in charge.
For a start, why does he remain an impact player at Barcelona, seemingly unable to dislodge the twin mastery of Xavi Hernandez or Andres Iniesta.
In Xavi’s case, Cesc has eight years over him and is approaching the age (27) that most are agreed is a football player’s peak.
Although Fabregas can cover all six attacking positions, he is rarely utilised as a starter in any of them, but surely there is an argument that the roles should be reversed with Xavi. That the status quo has remained the same throughout the season should speak volumes to Manchester United.
Lewis Doe of Here Is The City notes:
Fabregas has also been booed by Barcelona supporters for his performances this season, as recently as the victory over Athletic Bilbao last month
He’s been pushed to either side of the midfield and has looked lost at times playing false number nine role, which has seen him fighting all of his basic urges to drop into the midfield to pick up possession.
United like to break at pace down the channels. That would instantly rule Fabregas out of a wide berth in place of either Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa.
Time and again at Barca, with Fabregas taking winger duty from Neymar or Pedro Rodriguez, the Blaugrana’s attacks haven’t flowed as sweetly, and certainly haven’t had anywhere near the same dynamic and intent on the counter. Cesc simply doesn’t have the speed to the play in the wide role efficiently.
Place him centrally and the scramble for places is even more marked.
Cesc would then potentially be in direct competition with Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick et al, and looking at some of the stats via WhoScored, there isn't really enough in Cesc's all-round game that should see him dislodge any of his contemporaries bar Carrick.
|Cesc Fabregas vs. Manchester United's Current Midfield|
|Juan Mata||89.3||5||4||*12 games|
|Adnan Januzaj||81||4||3||*11 games|
In terms of style, Van Gaal would appear to favour athletic, but uncompromising, central midfielders. Think Mark van Bommel whilst in charge of Bayern Munich. The Daily Mirror suggest Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender as a modern-day alternative.
If the Dutchman does indeed take up the Old Trafford hot-seat, it’s hard to imagine that Cesc Fabregas would remain top of the agenda.
Time for United to turn their attentions elsewhere.