After a somewhat tiresome transfer saga, Arsenal have accepted to sell Cesc Fabregas to Barça for a fee worth around €40 million. The deal is for five years until 2016. Cesc is currently flying to Barcelona where he will undergo a medical and most probably be presented tomorrow Saturday. There are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of this deal especially as it may send the wrong message to some of the younger players coming through. The fact that Cesc chose to leave for London when he was just 16 perhaps can be forgiven on a personal basis. But for our 16-year-olds of today the route to making it as a player and to reaching our first team may now appear easier via the English Premier League. For a player like Thiago Alcantara it will also be a bit of a blow, though to be fair if you are going to be good enough for Barça you have to be the best and Thiago could well end up being precisely that and leaving Cesc on the bench.
The way we went about this transfer has also been put into question as it has been argued that we unethically unsettled the player. There may be some truth in this but I think the real villains have been the press who have spread rumours and encouraged our players to speak on the subject too many times when we were still a long way off an agreement. In the end it seems our tactics have irritated Arsenal into selling for under their valuation of the player. As I’ve said all along it seems Cesc is a more valuable asset to the Londoners, he is their captain after all, than he is to Barça, and I can understand their reluctance to allow the price to drop. But for Barça, at first sign, it is still a lot of money to spend on a player who wouldn’t get into the majority of culés’ first XIs.
However, it’s not all negative. At the end of the day we have obtained one of the best midfielders in the world and one who will have absolutely no problems needing to adapt to a new playing system, language, culture etc. Pep Guardiola seemed very keen on making the signing and perhaps we can understand this if we imagine ourselves in Pep’s position trying to decide on how he can possibly improve on things from last season: first up you have a fantastic first eleven (Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Villa) that it is practically impossible to improve on, then you have a great “number 12” in Mascherano, also impossible to improve on. It is only when you look at our numbers 13, 14 and 15 (I’m talking pecking order here, not shirt numbers) that it is possible to get stronger. Last season we might say the next three players in line were Adriano, Keita and Afellay and without any disrespect to these players they a small step below the level of the first twelve and thus our performance might be slightly affected when these players came into the team in place of one of the stars. The players we have signed this summer, Alexis and Cesc both look perfect now to give us a “first 14”, to which if we add Thiago we now have a very powerful first 15. If we look at things like this we see we have a stronger squad than ever which we are going to need as we are chasing six titles this season.
Welcome Cesc, I’ve never much liked you in the past but I recognise you are a very good player. I hope you do great things at Barça and make us all fall madly in love with you.