Arsenal FC: Does Barcelona-Bound Cesc Fabregas Need to Be Replaced?

Robin SAnalyst IJune 14, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal applauds the fans during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on April 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Before I begin, I must make it clear that this is not a debate on whether Cesc Fabregas should stay or leave.

I am going to focus on whether Arsenal really need a like-for-like replacement to replace the Barcelona-bound captain.

Following the events that transpired last summer, it's quite possible that Fabregas might leave Arsenal for his boyhood club this summer.

The only factor delaying this transfer is the fee.

While Barcelona are extremely reluctant to pay more than £35 million, Arsenal want a fee in the region of £50 million. Both clubs could reach a compromise if Barcelona manage to cough up a few more millions to persuade Arsene Wenger to sell his best player.

However, if you listen to Wenger, he's confident that Fabregas will remain an Arsenal player for years to come.

When it concerns transfers, you have to take what the reticent Frenchman says with a pinch of salt.

That said, there's no reason why Fabregas won't be an Arsenal player next season. At the same time, there's also no reason why Fabregas won't play for Barcelona next season.

The most pertinent question on our hands is who should replace Fabregas if he does leave. That doesn't mean he's leaving. If and when that does happen, what are the options?

Mathieu Valbuena, Yohan Gourcuff, Marek Hamsik, etc could be the first names on anyone's list, but don't Arsenal already have someone better than the said players?

Don't let your imagination run wild. It's not Alex Song!

Arsenal have a gifted central attacking player in Samir Nasri who has been forced to play on the wings because of the presence of Fabregas.

Naturally, should the captain depart it has to be Nasri to take over the baton.

Ironically, even Nasri's future at Arsenal is uncertain, but he's expected to stay with the Board and manager willing to budge over the French midfielder's demands.

The player himself has admitted many times that his best position is the central attacking role. But when you've an extraordinary player like Fabregas, it's not easy for others to snatch that position from the Spaniard.

Nasri and Fabregas are not exactly similar type of playmakers. Fabregas is a passer, but Nasri is a dribbler.

Fabregas cuts open defences with his impeccable passing skills, while Nasri relies more on his quick-feet, pace, and dribbling skills to unlock defences.

The former is a typical Spanish midfielder who likes the slow, patient, measured style with an indirect approach.

While this indirect approach is quite productive in the La Liga, direct playmakers tend to be more successful in the fast, physical Premier League.

As you might have noticed, Fabregas does slow down Arsenal's attack at times because of his style of play.

However, not many can match him in short-range and long-range passes. These attributes are ideal for a deep-lying playmaker, and it's for the same reason that one day he will replace Xavi Hernandez in the Spanish setup.

As for Nasri, his style is direct and plays at a higher tempo than Fabregas.

He's the flamboyant type of playmaker who can be inconsistent at times because of the propensity to attempt fancy dribbles and flicks. But such players do get you more goals and score from long range. Clearly Nasri has a powerful shot when compared to Fabregas.

This is by no means a comparison between Fabregas and Nasri. Both players are strong in their own means. In that respect, no two playmakers are the same.

Each player has his strengths and weaknesses. The crucial aspect is how much can you tweak the formation and strategy to play to the strength of your playmaker, like Arsenal are doing now with Fabregas, playing to his strengths.

If Nasri were to take up the playmaker slot, Arsenal would tweak the system to suit to Nasri's style.

If Nasri is handed the central playmaker role, an all-around wide player must be bought to add additional creativity.

Not a one-dimensional winger like Stewart Downing. Instead a player of the ilk of more creative ones like Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Mario Goetze etc.

In short, if and when Fabregas does leave, Arsenal don't need an attacking midfielder to replace him because they already have a certain Nasri, provided he stays, who's better than most players that Arsenal can afford.

By that, I mean Arsenal can't afford a Wesley Sneijder or a Javier Pastore. So, a more creative natural wide player to supplement Nasri would make Arsenal a more direct force eliminating the predictability that pervaded over the last few seasons.

Instead if Arsenal continue with Nasri on the wings and sign, say Gourcuff, to replace Fabregas then it wouldn't make much of a difference. If anything Arsenal would only be weaker.

Arsenal need variety and directness to dismantle the stubborn two-banks-of-four strategy adopted by the English clubs to counter the Gunners, which has been highly successful of late.

Make no mistake, I am not advocating the sale of Fabregas. The best thing for Arsenal is Fabregas staying on for the foreseeable future, but in all honesty that looks bleak.

Hence, the need to prepare for life without Fabregas presuming he's not irreplaceable.

Question to the readers is: As long as Arsenal won't spend £40 or £50 million on one player, should they look to bring in a midfielder to replace Fabregas and keep the system same (means attack becomes weaker assuming the new signing wouldn't be as good as Fabregas)?

Or should they play Nasri through middle with a new wide playmaker (Hazard, Mata, Goetze etc), which would make Arsenal more direct, unpredictable and creative and above all such a move would channelize Arsenal's attack to new levels?


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