Cesc Fabregas is a legitimate world-class talent. But that doesn't mean it makes sense for Arsenal to re-sign him this summer. The Gunners are reportedly ready to exercise their buy-back clause to pry Fabregas away from FC Barcelona and return him to North London, per London Evening Standard writer Andy Hodgson.
Many have been quick to endorse the proposed move, but the signing makes little sense for this Arsenal squad. First, there's the obvious issue about where Fagregas would fit in a team already loaded with playmakers.
Fabregas is a classy pass master, at his best hovering between midfield and forward lines, exposing defensive gaps with clever through passes. But that is now the remit of ex-Real Madrid No. 10 Mesut Ozil.
Manager Arsene Wenger paid £42.5 million last summer for Ozil to play between the lines. Trying to accommodate two like-minded schemers in the same position is certain to create imbalance within the team.
Fabregas was once part of that very problem. He featured in a team containing too many players in his mold.
Arsène's softer centre in my later years reflected the players he brought to the club. Samir Nasri becomes available, so Arsène takes him. Rosicky becomes available, so he takes him, because he's his type of player. Arshavin becomes available, so in he comes. When you acquire a lot of these players, they are almost clones.
As uncomfortable as it is to admit, Ferguson's critique of Wenger was justified in this instance. Bringing Fabregas back would be repeating follies from the past.
A lack of balance has even been an issue this season. Wenger has experienced problems trying to fit Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey into the same team. Loading up a team with playmakers might work in games against weaker opposition. But it has routinely failed Arsenal in the bigger contests against fellow trophy contenders.
Simply put, there is no strength and pace to complement ample amounts of flair and technical craft. Adding Fabregas would only compound that problem, rather than remedy it.
Of course, there are ways to make it work on paper. Fabregas could hover behind the striker, while the likes of Ozil and Cazorla spend more time on the flanks. However, the reality wouldn't look quite as simple. Arsenal would have a team stunted by a clutch of providers with not enough runners to aim for.
Supporters of a move for Fabregas would likely counter that point by contending the 27-year-old has adapted his game since moving to La Liga. He has played in every midfield position for the Catalan powerhouse and even seen time along the forward line.
But while Fabregas might have proven he can adapt to a number of different roles, he works best in one. That's where Arsenal need him to play.
Consider the case of Ramsey. The young Welsh ace can and has played a variety of positions during the last few seasons. He has operated behind the striker in a defensive midfield role and even been used on the right flank. But he works best as a central player with plenty of license to break forward. That's where he delivered so many decisive contributions to Arsenal's FA Cup-winning season.
Why part with a major fee for Fabregas only to wedge him into a role that doesn't maximize his main talents? While we're on the subject, why pay around £35 million, via The Mirror's John Cross, just to prevent an English Premier League rival from signing a player Wenger raised from a pup?
Fabregas signing for either one wouldn't doom Arsenal's chances of success next season. But parting with a hefty chunk of cash just to thwart a pair of rivals would be plotting mutually assured destruction in the transfer market.
Arsenal have other needs this summer: Wenger needs to bolster his options up front, both centrally and out wide. Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph suggests the Gunners boss is also determined to find a new right-back and a defensive-minded midfielder.
Signing Fabregas this summer, just to try to rekindle past glories, is a luxury the Gunners can afford but don't need.
That's what this argument ultimately comes down to: The past is past. Fabregas had his time at Arsenal, and he developed into a genuine star and the fulcrum of several teams who came close to claiming silverware.
But that moment has gone. Now is the time of Ozil and Ramsey. Now is the time to see just what Wilshere can develop into.
Now is also the time to balance a squad with the talent to add to this season's domestic cup. That means putting pace around Ozil, along with a physical, defensive presence to complement Ramsey's roving dynamism.
As good as he is, Fabregas just doesn't fit in Arsenal's future.