Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barca coulda, woulda, shoulda signed Cesc; but didn't

"Barcelona did all they could to sign me but Arsenal told me I had to stay, that there was no way they were going to let me go. In the end I had to stay — but the content of my conversation with Arsene Wenger will remain private."

- Cesc Fabregas, staying at Arsenal

I suppose this is the story of the day. Cesc Fabregas spoke to a paper and told them that Barcelona wanted him but Arsenal refused to let him go. Cesc Fabregas spoke to Arsene Wenger in confidence, and then he went to South Africa and won the World Cup. And then he came back to the Arsenal and played with an ambitionless team bouncing between 3rd and 4th place.

If you drain it of melodrama and concentrated on the facts, it's actually quite a prosaic story. Cesc wants to go home. Barcelona want him, but Arsenal don't want to sell. Cesc has a long-term contract. Cesc is professional enough that he won't go on strike, or refuse to play, or whatever. Cesc will stay at Arsenal until such time that Barcelona stump up enough money to force Arsenal to change their minds. This is a story that gets played out at every club in every league in every country in the world.

On one hand, I don't want to see Cesc leave unless we get proper compensation. Barcelona's final offer (£33m) is insulting. Cesc is a European and World Cup winner, the natural replacement for Xavi, and a symbol of Catalan superiority. He's priceless... or at least so pricey that he's worth much more than £33m.

On the other hand, I don't see the point of keeping hold of Cesc for another season if we don't capitalise on his talent. We have one of the best playmakers in the world on our hands. We could've reinforced the squad with a few choice signings, and had a major tilt at the league this year. But we didn't. We sat on our hands and bought in as many players as we let go. It's clear we don't have serious ambitions for the league. And it's clear that we didn't retain Cesc to help us win the league.

It's pretty disheartening for all concerned if the only reason we kept him was so we could get a better price for him next year.

So on the 232nd last day of my 20s, I talked to the GOMD for what will be the last time in 6 weeks. She's going overseas on the Friday. And I'm going overseas on the day she comes back. I'll miss her. She is very... special.

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