The rumors of Real Madrid’s and Jose Mourinho’s interest in signing Cesc Fabregas could very well be true, but they do not trouble most Arsenal fans. I don’t doubt that Jose Mourinho sees Cesc as a valuable player, and I don’t doubt that if he made an offer for him, he would post a decent price.
I just don’t think that Cesc would leave Arsenal for Real Madrid. Cesc has confessed his love for Barcelona, which isn’t surprising considering that Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, was where Cesc first began to learn his trade. He has said that he will only leave Arsenal for Barcelona. This makes a move to Real Madrid seem ridiculous.
Barcelona, however, does pose a very REAL threat when it comes to Arsenal losing their talisman.
During this summer’s edition of the “Cesc Saga,” many Arsenal fans feared that the loss of our creative central midfielder would spell certain disaster for Arsenal. Fans were relieved when Cesc decided to stay, but knew that it would only be a matter of time before Barca came calling again.
Now there are rumors linking Cesc with a January move to Barcelona. He is not likely to make a move this January, but a move to Barcelona seems imminent, whether it is this summer or next. There are rumors that the Spanish giants have already broken a deal with Cesc that would see him leaving for Barcelona in this coming Summer transfer window on a five-year contract. There is no word yet that Arsenal have agreed to this "deal," only time will tell.
That said, Real Madrid’s reported attempt to hijack Barca's bid to sign the Arsenal captain might have well collapsed. No matter where he goes, Arsenal must be prepared for life without him.
Where would his move leave Arsenal?
Fabregas has had a stop-start beginning part of the season due to a recurring hamstring injury likely picked up during international duty over the summer. During his absences, we have been able to see exactly what Arsenal is capable of without their Captain and chief playmaker.
French player of the year (2010), Samir Nasri, has really stepped up in place of Cesc and is Arsenal’s top goal scorer so far this season. Although he usually plays as a winger, Samir Nasri showed great creative and finishing skill in Cesc’s place in the center of midfield. Nasri is also very clever with his feet, dribbling past defenders and scoring goals from near impossible angles.
Thomas Rosicky, who captains the side when neither Cesc nor Robin van Persie is available, may have lost his shooting boots but is not short of play making and passing skill.
Of course, the team plays much better when Cesc is on the pitch, especially so when he scores. When Cesc is playing and fit, he brings an extra dimension to the attack with his great vision, first touch, and defense slicing passes.
This season, we have been able to see just how deep Arsenal’s squad is with others like Theo Walcott and newcomer Marouane Chamakh showing just how important they can be for the team.
Losing Cesc during this summer or the next wouldn’t be a total loss, but even just his presence on the field creates a sense of calm within the team.
How would the Arsenal lineup look without Cesc in the center of midfield?
One thing that Arsenal has in spades is depth in their ranks. When Cesc leaves, there are a few players who can fill his position in the center of midfield. Rosicky has been known to be a reliable deputy in that position, but at thirty years old, he won’t be with Arsenal much longer. Samir Nasri has shown great class and skill in the center of midfield and would be the front runner to replace Cesc in that position. And at only twenty-three years of age, he could be a long term replacement.
With Nasri taking a more central role, that opens up the wings and midfield for more rotation. Younger talents and players in the reserves will have a better chance of breaking into the first team. This is great news for rising stars like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, and the back-from-injury, Aaron Ramsey.
When Cesc is no longer a part of the squad, it is likely that we’ll see more starts from the pacey Theo Walcott. Walcott is looking to make a Thierry Henry-like move from the wings to the central striking position. Youngster Jack Wilshere shows immense potential; many see him as Cesc’s successor.
While Arsenal won’t be in dire straits without Cesc, he is still a very important part of the team. He’s much more important for Arsenal than he would be for either Real Madrid or Barcelona. In Arsenal, when he’s fit, Cesc is a mainstay in the starting lineup.
In Real Madrid, he would have a pretty good chance of starting games because RM is not known for wasting new signings.
Barcelona, on the other hand, have the reputation of benching great, recently-signed talent in favor of the same old starting lineup, i.e. Henry, Hleb, Ibra, and most recently Mascherano, who they just bought from Liverpool last summer. This works for Barcelona, but could be detrimental for Cesc‘s playing career as he would be competing for a spot in midfield with Xavi, Iniesta, and new Barca signing Ibrahim Affelay.