Which Premier League Club Should Sign Cesc Fabregas?
With Barcelona putting the Premier League’s top clubs on red alert by putting creative midfielder Cesc Fabregas up for sale, speculation is rife about where he could be playing his football next season.
Fabregas’s return to boyhood club Barcelona after eight years at Arsenal has been something of an anticlimax, and the Catalans have put a price tag of £30 million on the 27-year-old.
While it would be a sizable outlay for any club, the former Arsenal captain’s abilities are held in high esteem, and given the notorious difficulty in judging a creative player’s ability to adapt to English football, his proven quality and experience would make him an immensely attractive proposition.
As soon as the news broke, many immediately speculated that an Emirates return could be on the cards for Fabregas. He is held in extremely high regard at the club, and manager Arsene Wenger is no stranger to bringing back familiar faces, having done so with club legends Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell in the past.
However, while Fabregas returning would certainly be a popular move among Arsenal fans, if the club was to sign him, it would be a decision driven by nostalgia rather than pragmatism.
Like Manchester United, Arsenal broke their club record transfer fee last season in bringing in a creative midfield presence—Mesut Ozil for £42.5 million from Real Madrid—and have plenty of back-up in the position with the likes of Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla.
Despite Wenger having a £100 million war chest to spend over the summer, the squad has far more pressing areas to address, such as a new striker, a replacement for the outgoing Bacary Sagna and a tackling defensive midfielder.
While having a wealth of midfield talent—Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian, to name just three—Fabregas to Chelsea wouldn't be a bad bet.
His ability to play the role of deep-lying playmaker, as well as in a more advanced position, would certainly make him a viable replacement for the released Frank Lampard, who operated in a similar area last season.
Chelsea also wouldn't be troubled by the fee. With Roman Abramovich appearing to have no qualms about continuing to bankroll the team and with no major deficiencies in the squad with the completion of Diego Costa’s transfer from Atletico Madrid impending, Jose Mourinho’s activity in the market will largely focus on improving on what he already has.
However, the one stumbling block could be Mourinho’s famous insistence on defensive work rate, a style of management largely responsible for Juan Mata’s falling out of favour and subsequent transfer last season. While Fabregas is able to put a shift in, he is somewhat lacking in ability defensively, which may put the Portuguese manager off.
Last season’s title runners-up, Liverpool played a scintillating brand of passing football that would suit Fabregas to a tee. Given captain Steven Gerrard’s superb performances in the defensive “quarterback” role, Cesc would almost certainly be utilised in a more attacking capacity, something which arguably suits him better.
The fluidity of the system, particularly the front three, would also not be an issue, with Fabregas having been used as a striker by both Barca and the Spanish national team in the past.
However, Liverpool don’t have the same financial resources as Chelsea and Manchester City, meaning a significant outlay like this would only be reserved for an absolutely crucial signing. The Reds already have Philippe Coutinho able to play in the position, and having scored over 100 goals in the league last season, it may be a case of if it isn't broken, don’t fix it.
That being said, signing Fabregas would certainly be a signal of intent from Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, and he would represent a major asset for the squad.
Fabregas would certainly be yet another world star that Manchester City could add to their ranks and further solidify their position as a footballing powerhouse.
However, while money wouldn’t be an issue, the recent Financial Fair Play ruling on the club has limited them to a net £49 million transfer outlay, which may make them think twice about spending so much on a single player, even if only to avoid a similar ruling next season.
They also have a midfield packed with talent, including Fabregas’s fellow countryman, David Silva, who operates in very similar fashion. While signing Cesc would help them continue their rich tradition of recruiting ex-Arsenal players, it seems unlikely.
With United about to undergo what will surely be a major squad overhaul under new boss Louis van Gaal, the prospect of a proven Premier League star to add to the side at Old Trafford would be fairly attractive, particularly as United are looking to bolster their midfield.
However, after the January club record signing of Juan Mata, the question to ask would be how would the two work together, given their similarities. United’s real need is for a ball-winning midfield destroyer, and adding another creative midfielder into the mix would greatly limit the team’s options in terms of formations and tactics.
As well as Mata, United also have Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney, and both are capable of playing a creative attacking role. Additionally, Wesley Sneijder, a player who van Gaal has singled out as being vital to the Dutch effort in the World Cup, would presumably available for much less, and Fabregas to United looks like a non-starter.
In many ways, of all the top Premier League clubs, Spurs would arguably benefit the most from signing Fabregas. While they do have some good attacking midfielders, none are as good as Fabregas when on form.
New manager Mauricio Pochettino is known for his swift passing style, a mentality that Fabregas would suit perfectly, and despite chairman Daniel Levy driving a notoriously hard bargain when it comes to transfers, even he would be hard-pressed to question Barcelona’s valuation of the Spanish international.
While Spurs are arguably the team most in need of his services, they would probably represent the least attractive destination for the player himself. Spurs fans would presumably not bear too many North London-based grudges if he opted for White Hart Lane, but the lack of Champions League football would no doubt make them a step down for Fabregas.