Barcelona Must Pass The Torch From Xavi To Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas has become a victim of his own fans’ boos. An example was against Athletic Bilbao on April 20 when he replaced Xavi in the 70th minute. It’s not his fault that Barcelona endured a mediocre season by their standards. The team was unable to adapt to Tata Martino’s tactics and were plagued by injuries. The four-time winners of the European Cup are getting older and need to rebuild but Cesc Fabregas should remain to contribute instead of being viewed as a scapegoat.
Reports have surfaced that Manchester United, Manchester City and his former club Arsenal would be the first suitors ready to sign him away from Catalonia. Barcelona needs plenty of improvements but a critical one is to find an heir to replace Xavi. Xavi is still the master of passing the ball. Unfortunately, his reflexes are slower and his passing has become predictable as he either moves the ball sideways or backwards. Main targets of the club to replace the 34-year-old Blaugrana great are Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan, A.S. Roma’s Miralem Pjanjic and Atletico Madrid’s Koke.
Gundogan makes Dortmund tick but he’s more familiar with fast counterattacking football as compared to 22-time La Liga champions’ patient tiki-taka. Pjanjic has signed a new contract with Roma and will be an expensive buy with no guarantee of success as he too isn’t familiar with philosophy as well. Koke represents a great option but Los Rojiblancos won’t let him join a rival club easily. La Masia graduate Sergi Roberto isn’t experienced enough to succeed Xavi in midfield yet and another graduate Rafinha possesses a style of play that isn’t similar to Xavi. He’s more of a box-to-box midfielder.
Barcelona doesn’t need to look beyond their club to find the ideal replacement for Xavi. Fabregas, a player who has been trained in La Masia and is familiar with most of his current teammates, either via the Spanish National team or via playing together for the Barcelona’s youth teams. In the 2013-14 season for club and country he’s had 15 goals and 17 assists, 13 which came in La Liga where he was tied for second with Koke.
During a 2012 goal.com interview, Xavi claimed that he wasn’t liked in the clubhouse because he didn’t agree with then manager Frank Rijkaard’s tactics of preferring a physical over technical type of football. “Four or five years ago, I was [deemed] terrible and useless. I was Barca’s cancer! A player 1,70m tall was simply impossible,” said the member of the 2010 World Cup winning Spanish National team.
At the age of 27, Fabregas is at his prime and this represents the ideal time for him to inherit Xavi’s midfield role just the way Xavi received it at the age of 28 from Deco. Also, Fabregas can play both direct and indirect football. New manager Luis Enrique can maintain the current philosophy at Barcelona but he has also implement a plan when they play against clubs the play a pragmatic brand of football and prefer to concede possession to play the counterattack. Fabregas he has the experience of the more physical Premier League where he became a star as a play-maker for the Gunners.
Word has it that Fabregas wants a free role at Barcelona, the position he deployed when he enjoyed his time under Arsene Wenger. The likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Andres Iniesta need freedom on the pitch to fully express their talents so it’s unlikely that Fabregas will ever get that position.
It’s been a long dream for Fabregas of being a success and fan favorite at his boyhood club. He wants to stay to continue to pursue his goal and Barcelona would be wise to keep him while searching for improvements in goalkeeping, central defense, and central forward. Even though they’ve brought in Marc-Andre ter Stegen they still need another solid goalkeeper to compete with him, a replacement for legend Carles Puyol, and a bigger forward to be Messi’s backup as an aerial and physical threat that they desperately need. In Barcelona’s plans for the transfer window they will worry about improving the team to compete again with La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and Champions League winners Real Madrid. Out of all the issues they have, Fabregas isn’t one of them and he should stay to become an important player for the team.