Well, here we are. Transfer season. The season of silly rumors, inflated price tags (Seriously? David Luiz was sold for 50 million?), and Xavi Barca DNA quotes. Only this time, Xavi might want to chill.
Yes, it seems that Barcelona’s prodigal son, the one exiled to London as a child, is now a bastard. Welcome to part two of the Cesc Fabregas Transfer Saga.
So, what happened? Well, it looks like Cesc isn’t really Barca material, at least not according to new manager Luis Enrique. (Former manager Pep Guardiola also wanted to sell him in 2012, this after specifically asking for him in years prior. Yeah, Pep doesn’t do so well with transfers sometimes.)
Cesc Fabregas was, at times, Barcelona’s best midfielder. With Messi out because of injury, manager Tata Martino built the squad to take advantage of Cesc’s talents, playing a lethal high speed counterattacking style, which to my mind was the best football Barcelona played last season. (It was a crummy season.)
But then, some time around the new year, Cesc’s production hit a wall. He wasn’t as impactful, and while his stats may show otherwise, he really wasn’t the same player he was in November. This is due to two factors, in my opinion: Xavi and what many call “Arsenalitis”.
Arsenalitis is what happens to Arsenal – duh – in the lead up to the end of the season. Freak injuries occur, players get tired, guaranteed wins turn into draws and losses. Barcelona fans have long said that Cesc suffers from the same ailment. It’s like his Barca DNA – to use a stupid, stupid analogy that has no merit whatsoever – was tampered with when he went to Arsenal.
The Barcelona product, who went to London in “pristine” shape (LOL), came back defective. If there were Cesc clones, this Cesc is basically Cosima.
As a result, Cesc was told that he was being sold, preferably to a Premier League team.
First thing’s first. I don’t think Cesc should be sold. He’s a great player who, because of factors out of his control (*cough* Xavi *cough*), has to sacrifice what made him the great player he was at Arsenal for the benefit of the “team” (*cough* Xavi *cough*).
Ahhhh, Xavi. No discussion of Cesc is complete without mentioning Xavi. From 2008, when he led Spain to the European championships, Xavi has been romanticized as the ideal midfielder, someone whose way of playing football was the right way. Anything different than that was evil, a bastardization of the beautiful game. And Cesc couldn’t be more different than Xavi. Where Xavi played the game to control and retain possession, valuing the ball at all costs, Cesc played the game with reckless abandon, forever looking for that killer pass (there was nobody more proficient at assisting goals in Europe over the past five years).
To use a basketball analogy, Xavi is Chris Paul and Cesc is Russell Westbrook. And just like people on Twitter weren’t letting Westbrook be Westbrook, Catalonia wasn’t letting Cesc be Cesc. They wanted Cesc to be Xavi, which in my opinion is unfair to both of them. There will never be another Xavi, just like there’s probably not going to be another Cesc.
This upcoming season should be the season of the changing of the guard, where Barcelona finally becomes Cesc’s team, playing in his image. This is why the Barcelona board wanted him here. This is what he came back to do. Let him do it.
Furthermore, I don’t want this board making that decision. This is a board that, in three years, has single handedly destroyed possibly the greatest club team ever. They have failed to upgrade the team and strengthen the areas it needs to be strengthened in. That Barcelona still doesn’t have a center back – even after selling a few – is a crime.
And honestly, the time to sell Cesc was last summer. This board had two up and coming midfielders who could lay claim to the Xavi “throne”: Cesc and Thiago. When they sold Thiago, they hitched their wagon to Cesc (Some might argue wrongly.) Now all of a sudden they want him gone?
Without a backup plan, and really, there’s none in sight – not one that will be both sure fire and relatively cheap, anyway – this is bound to be a disaster in an orgy of disasters for this board. (One of these disasters was apparently an orgy for Neymar’s dad. No joke.)
Another wrinkle in this is that Cesc famously said that he would only return to England to play for Arsenal, the team he played eight years for prior to joining Barcelona. So just sell him back to Arsenal right? Not so fast. Arsenal don’t want him, for one, and they also wouldn’t pay as much as other English teams would. Manchester City was linked with him (maybe in a straight swap for Yaya Toure, who a) hates playing at the Etihad apparently and b) wants to return to Barca someday) and Liverpool might turn to him if their bid for Southampton’s Adam Lallana is unsuccessful.
The most intriguing destination for Fabregas remains Chelsea. If that happens, then the apocalypse is surely close. But there’s another wrinkle there. It seems that Chelsea will only look at Cesc if their bid for Atletico Madrid’s Koke fails. This is the same Koke, valued at 60 million by his club by the way, that Barcelona hope to sign if and when they get rid of Cesc. You gotta love transfer season!
If it were up to me, I’d hold off on the Cesc decision for one more year. This is put up or shut up time for everyone involved. The Barcelona board and coaching staff need to see exactly what they have in Cesc, and that can only happen if this team is handed to him. That means Xavi takes a peripheral role this season. Barcelona should make it clear to Cesc that this is his team now; he’s the maestro in the midfield. If he doesn’t deliver then, and provided the team is provided with proper reinforcements that have been a long time coming now, then you revisit the situation again next summer.
One thing’s for sure, though. This thing is going to drag on forever. That is the only constant in the Cesc Fabregas Transfer Saga.
Well, that and hating ourselves at the end.