How Would Transfer Target Cesc Fabregas Fit into the Current Arsenal XI?

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 15:  Cesc Fabregas of FC Barcelona celebrates after his teammate Pedro Rodriguez scored his team's fourth goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at Camp Nou on February 15, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Arsenal fans' summer of transfer speculation has kicked off with a bang, with the news that the Gunners could be chasing former skipper Cesc Fabregas.

According to John Cross of The Mirror, a clause inserted in the Spaniard's contract gives Arsenal the edge in the race for his services:

Arsene Wenger is ready to bring Cesc Fabregas back to Arsenal.

Barcelona will listen to offers for Fabregas this summer – and the Gunners have first refusal on their former captain. The 27-year-old midfielder is open to making a return to the Premier League and his relationship with Wenger together with a buy-back clause means the door is open for the Gunners.

Arsenal put in place a clause when they sold Fabregas to Barca for £30million three years ago. The Spanish giants have to inform them if they receive a bid, and the Londoners then get first refusal. 

Arsenal supporters would be eager to see their club exercise that clause if it meant preventing Fabregas from joining a rival club. The thought of Fabregas lining up in the colours of Manchester United, or even Chelsea, is unpalatable beyond compare.

Arsenal don't strictly need Fabregas. There are other areas of the squad that require more immediate attention. With Bacary Sagna seemingly headed out of the club, a move for a new right-back ought to be a priority. Arsenal also need to replace Lukasz Fabianski as deputy goalkeeper, and ought to move for a new centre-forward to supplement Olivier Giroud.

That's not to say Fabregas couldn't find a place in the Arsenal team. A player as gifted as that demands a role in the starting XI. The beauty of Fabregas is that he could play in several different positions. Since returning to Barcelona, he has added versatility to his game. Although he has been criticised for failing to nail down a regular starting role, he has consequently developed an ability to operate in different areas of the field.

His preferred position is still as a traditional No. 10. In order to accommodate him there, Mesut Ozil would be forced wide. However, that's not quite the heresy it immediately appears: Ozil frequently drifts out to the flank anyway, and has been deployed there in the past by Real Madrid.

Cesc Fabregas lining up as a No. 10

Fabregas could also perform in a deep-lying midfield role alongside Aaron Ramsey. The danger of that system is that it contains no designated holding midfielder. Due to its cavalier look, this system could only be used in comfortable home games. However, were Ramsey absent through injury, Fabregas could be partnered by Mikel Arteta or his old friend Mathieu Flamini to make for a more solid midfield base.

Cesc Fabregas lining up as a deep-lying playmaker

Fabregas also offers the intriguing possibility of playing as a false nine. This could be particularly useful in tricky away games, when Fabregas would be able to drop back in to assist the midfield as well as provide a pivot around which the likes of Ozil, Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott could operate.

Cesc Fabregas lining up as a False Nine

Fitting Fabregas into an Arsenal XI is easy, because he has both the class and adaptability to star in several positions. Because of his symbolic significance, his return to Arsenal would give the club a huge lift off the field. However, his presence in the starting XI would surely help them achieve their goals on it too.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.