Webster: Selling Cesc sends wrong message
Every football club that strives to be amongst the best needs a great player. This individual must possess style, class and a demeanor that represents what the stands for. Selling this type of player, no matter what the transfer fee, will not improve the club, it will only weaken the club… are you paying attention Arsene Wenger!
It seems that every summer, well at least for the past seven seasons, Arsenal Football club has been involved in an epic struggle to keep their great player. The fact this player is usually their captain and best player adds to the intrigue. Think along the lines of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and now Cesc Fabregas.
To make matters worse, FC Barcelona, a team that has had Arsenal’s number in recent years always seems to be the preferred destination although, in the case of Vieira, he eventually made his way to Juventus.
Lerner playing with fire at Aston Villa
England's supporters remain delusional
Man City setting up great rivalry with Utd
Gunners lacking leaders on and off pitch
Premier League's Team of the Season
To lose one captain is unlucky, two is de ja vu but three smacks of a lack of vision and that’s one thing you’d have never accused Wenger of in the past.
The Spaniards bid of £27m ($43m) though is a strange one. Yes, I know the game is ‘you start low, we go high’ and somehow we meet in the middle but when you’re attempting to take a team's best player, isn’t the idea to soften them up rather than piss them off.
I suppose Barca are thinking that because the Gunners stole Cesc in the first place and the fact that the Londoners robbed the Nou Camp big wigs out of silly money for the likes of Henry, Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars and Alexander Hleb, pay pack was long overdue.
But hey, this isn’t about FC Barcelona, intergalactic dream team, rulers of all they survey it’s about Cesc Fabregas and what his departure could mean for Arsenal.
In the current transfer market $43m (the latest Barca bid) isn’t pocket change when you consider what Andy Carroll ($55m) fetched when he moved to Liverpool from Newcastle. But here is a player who hasn’t exactly been a winner since becoming the fulcrum of the club. An FA Cup in 2005 is hardly worth including on the resume seeing how often Wenger uses the tournament as a run out for the youth side.
Obviously Wenger can’t keep a player that is unhappy and one only had to witness the body language of Cesc at times in the last campaign to know that the skipper didn’t love life at the Emirates. Barca also offered $63m last summer so there must be the realization that just maybe this is a depreciating asset.
Injuries have taken their toll over the last few campaigns and as we saw from Michael Owen, one that hamstring proves problematic, it can in some cases, prevent a career from hitting the heights that we once thought possible.
Maybe it’s the curse of the captaincy because since Vieira left the club, Wenger’s track record has been appalling, however even he knows that you cannot afford to have a disgruntled leader especially when the squad is so young and impressionable.
I think to date Fabregas has handled himself with the poise expected of an Arsenal captain but how long can he maintain that attitude? On his national team he’s a winner surrounded by the best players in the world, the majority of which play for the Catalans and I’m pretty sure they’re tapping him up at every opportunity. One only has to watch the Youtube footage of his Spanish teammates squeezing him into a Barca shirt to be aware of this.
Wenger or the board must make a decision and make it soon. One is take the money and build the next Gunners side around Samir Nasri as we’re hearing on the grapevine or two, commit to Cesc by buying the personnel required to take the North Londoners to the next level.
Personally I think the move to Barca is inevitable and at the end of the day, Arsenal have done well to keep him at the Emirates for as long as they have given the current climate that has seen the Emirates a trophy fee zone.
Arsenal are a big club but right now Barca are the biggest club on the planet and who wouldn’t want to strut on that stage and at the same time be given a chance to return to your roots.
This is the most important summer in Arsenal’s history and they need to ask themselves a question: who are they and what do they stand for?