The inevitable departure of Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal to Barcelona has finally happened. The former Arsenal captain, one of the greatest players to ever wear the Arsenal shirt, is in Barcelona today to sign a transfer deal that could end up being worth £35 million. While the loss of Fabregas is a devastating blow to Arsenal, it’s also a massive turning point in the history of the club.
What happens next will decide the fate of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Fabregas’s departure gives Jack Wilshere an excellent opportunity to step into the Spanish midfielder’s shoes. But Wenger, whose relationship with Arsenal fans is at its lowest point since managing the club, needs to make exceedingly wise decisions regarding what to do with the money from the Fabregas transfer. This is an opportunity for Wenger to spend the Fabregas money on buying two to three quality players who will transform Arsenal this season and inject experience and creativity that will help them push for a trophy. Anything less and the Arsenal fans will organize a mutiny.
The last thing Arsenal fans need right now is for Wenger to be thrifty with the money received from Barcelona. Wenger needs to act fast. There’s no time for him to stall and look for the perfect, young prodigy. Arsenal has plenty of youth and talent already.
What Arsenal does need is (1) a holding midfielder who is as tenacious as Mathieu Flamini was, (2) an experienced central defender who will compete against Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny for their positions, and (3) a proven striker who will be to play alongside Robin van Persie, or step in when he gets injured.
Not only does Arsenal need those three signings in the next two weeks, but they also need to make sure that Samir Nasri doesn’t leave the club. As we saw Saturday from Arsenal’s performance against Newcastle United, the Gunners lack creativity in midfield. Arsenal weren’t playing the brand of football we’re accustomed to seeing from them. The possession football that they play so well was largely missing, and Nasri is the engine that will make that happen.
Arsene Wenger and Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis have a lot of work to do in the next two weeks to keep Nasri at Arsenal and buy two to three big signings. Arsenal has the money, even if Fabregas’s £35 million won’t come in one lump sum.
Arsenal are in a situation where they have no excuses. They knew that the loss of Fabregas was inevitable. I’m sure that Wenger would have preferred to keep him, but the reality is that £35 million for Fabregas is a sizable amount for a player who has been very injury prone and whose heart was at another club.
“I waited many days, months, years for this moment. I return home after 8 years,” said Fabregas, at his unveiling in Barcelona today.
Arsenal needs to be aggressive in the transfer market in the next two weeks to win back the confidence of the supporters. They need to make a statement to their fans and to the rest of the league that they’re back and ambitious. Otherwise this may be a very long season for Arsenal supporters and Wenger.