The 2011 summer transfer market is yet again treating football fans to another chapter of the seemingly neverending Cesc Fabregas saga. Will Cesc finally return home this summer or not?
Barcelona have once again bidded for the Arsenal captain, but the North London club refused and seem determined to get as much money as possible for this transfer, and it seems to impossible to say if and when a deal will finally be reached this summer.
Even a section of Barcelona supporters now claim they don't want Fabregas. According to these fans, Fabregas made his own bed when he left Barcelona back in 2003, and the club shouldn't spend a massive amount of money to get him back, even if that's his wish. They also believe that Thiago Alcantara is ready for first team football and has the potential to one day replace Xavi and Iniesta.
Let's look at the pros and cons of signing Fabregas, starting with five reasons why Barcelona should sign Cesc and then five reasons why they shouldn't.
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Let's start with the reasons why Fabregas should be signed, and the reasons that, logically, most Barcelona supporters who defend his signing usually evoke...
This is pretty much clear to everyone who's been watching football in the past five years. Fabregas is a world beater in his own right, arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League at the moment.
Sure, he doesn't start for Spain, but that is not because he isn't great; it's because Spanish football has been blessed with a golden generation, and his teammates Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Xabi Alonso are even better than him, hard as it may seem to believe. If he played for any other country, he'd be a lock to start every match.
Over the past five seasons, no player in Europe has racked up more league assists than Cesc Fabregas, and his goal tally is pretty good as well. While he'd not command a regular starting spot at Barcelona, he'd certainly have a lot to add to the squad.
His arrival would allow Pep Guardiola to rotate his squad a lot more; Xavi and Iniesta would have more rest, same for Pedro and Villa (with Cesc playing in midfield and Iniesta on the wing).
Cesc Fabregas is Catalan; he's a Barcelona supporter (just like his entire family), he's a socio and he's friends with pretty much the entire squad.
Besides, he grew up playing in La Masia, where he learned his trade. He was part of a golden La Masia generation that also included his childhood friends Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué.
This means that, in theory, Cesc would have no trouble adapting to the city and the club.
It's his city and his club, and it's always been. Adapting to the system would also be fairly easy, he grew up in it, not to mention he's used to playing with pretty much all his future teammates.
It's not exactly a secret that Barcelona players are very keen on having Fabregas as their teammate.
From Xavi to David Villa, Barcelona players have stated that they like and admire Cesc and would love for him to return home. Pep Guardiola is also an admirer of Cesc's qualities; when Cesc was a youth player, Guardiola told him that he'd one day inherit his No. 4 jersey, which seems bound to happen soon.
If Cesc were to come, he'd fit in seamlessly with his teammates and manager, and there'd be no relationship issues at all. He'd instantly become "one of the guys." Hell, he probably already is, even while in North London.
This is the most crucial aspect, and the one that's been driving Barcelona's relentless pursuit.
Cesc wants to go back home and play for his boyhood club with his friends and under the management of his childhood idol.
It is very clear that Cesc loves Barcelona, and he'd give 110 percent in a Barcelona jersey, as his fellow La Masia products Messi, Xavi, Iniesta et al do on a daily basis. He'd be fully committed to the cause; that much is certain.
This is a vital reason as well. Most of Barcelona's first team players have won everything there is to win at both the club and the international level, and they're legends in their own right.
Even if they seem to remain hungry, complacency is bound to emerge at some point.
Cesc, on the other hand, hasn't achieved much in his career, especially considering his talent. He did win the Euro and the World Cup with Spain, but he wasn't really a very influential player in those tournaments. At the club level, his stellar performances haven't led to any meaningful trophies.
That said, Cesc is still 24 and has many years ahead of him to shape his own legacy, meaning that he'd be extra motivated to succeed at Barcelona and win the trophies he deserves.
After analysing the pros of eventually signing Cesc, let's now take a look at the cons...
If there's one position where Barcelona are stacked, it's in midfield. There's no shortage of quality options.
For the defensive midfield position, the Catalans have Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano, who are both among the best at their position. If needed, Keita or even Xavi can fill in that position as well.
As for centre/attacking midfielders, Barceona already have Xavi, Iniesta, Afellay, Keita and the hugely promising Thiago Alcantara.
Except for Keita, all these players are either world beaters or world class talents (Afellay and Thiago). Even Keita, while far from world class, has proved to be extremely reliable even in big games and a vital squad player.
Of course Fabregas would add even more quality, but it hardly seems necessary, given the abundance of midfield talent already in the club's ranks (not to mention up-and-coming youngsters like Jonathan dos Santos and Sergi Roberto).
While Fabregas is an exceptional player, there's no way he'd be a regular starter at Barcelona, especially not in the big games.
Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta just happen to form what's arguably the most dominant midfield trio of all time, they just never lose the midfield battle. There's no reason to break this hugely successful midfield combo, so unless one of them picked a long-term injury, Fabregas wouldn't get nearly as many minutes as he does at Arsenal.
While he'd certainly be a magnificent rotation player, probably the best rotation player in the world, does it make sense to splash $40 million for a player who isn't likely to be a regular starter?
Given that Barcelona's midfield is already stacked and there are other areas of concern that should be addressed in this transfer market, the answer seems to be a negative one.
Fabregas left Barcelona in 2003 in search for regular first team football. He got that at Arsenal, but he soon found out that taking shortcuts often leads you nowhere.
It's hard to believe that he's not at least a bit jealous of all that his childhood friends Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué have achieved at Barcelona. He wants to be a part of the current exceptional Barcelona crop, and everyone in the club seems to want the same thing.
But signing him would set a very dangerous precedent for all youngsters who might think about leaving in the future. The thought that Barcelona will one day splash massive amounts of cash in order to get them back isn't likely to inspire much loyalty from the youngsters.
You want a player like Xavi or Puyol, who stuck with the club in the most difficult times despite offers from other big clubs, to be a role model for kids coming through the ranks. You want youth players to follow their example, not Fabregas's.
It's very difficult for La Masia's midfield graduates to establish themselves in the first team, what with the competition being so tough.
Thiago has shown extraordinary promise last season, and logic dictates he will get a lot more minutes this season. But Cesc's arrival would only make it more difficult for him to get the minutes he deserves and needs to fully reach his potential.
It'd hardly seem fair if the one who ran away hindered the development of the one who stuck around. That said, the season is very long, and Pep Guardiola would certainly know how to manage his midfielders and give all of them ample playing time.
This is the biggest concern. Xavi Hernandez is seven years older than Cesc Fabregas, he has played even more games/minutes than Cesc over the past three/four seasons, yet it is Fabregas who seems to be suffering from burn out.
Xavi's fitness level is absolutely surreal, but still...Cesc is seven years younger. If anything, he should be able to cope with the long seasons way better than Xavi.
Besides, Cesc seems to get injured all the time and has chronic hamstring problems. That said, Lionel Messi also struggled with fitness and injuries before the 2008/2009 season; he was the best player in the world but couldn't play a full season due to injuries.
When Pep Guardiola arrived, all of Messi's fitness woes magically disappeared. In fact, Barcelona haven't had much trouble with injuries ever since Pep arrived; the squad has been quite remarkably healthy.
So maybe coming to Barcelona might also help Cesc overcome his fitness issues.
Signing Cesc Fabregas would undoubtedly make the squad better.
FC Barcelona and Cesc Fabregas look like a match made in heaven. However, as Barcelona's recent success showed, Fabregas isn't a necessity; his signing would be a luxury, and one has to wonder if splashing $40 million on a rotation player actually makes sense.
What do you think?
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