All these men have something in common other than being former Arsenal players. Arsene Wenger has let all of them go to clubs that were direct threats to the Gunners in the English Premier League via the transfer or free market. Fabregas is the latest as he’s joined Chelsea.
Some may wonder why I included Fabregas with the footballers mentioned above since he’s been at Barcelona for the last three seasons. It’s because Arsenal put in his transfer deal that if the Catalonia-based club wanted to move for the 27-year-old, the Gunners had first refusal. Meaning they would be the first club allowed to negotiate a transfer fee with the club and a contract with the player before any other team could be contacted. When it was first reported that the 2010 World Cup winner would leave the Blaugrana, it was said that he only wanted to play in England. Arsenal have bigger needs elsewhere but being able to replace Mikel Arteta with a world-class player who also has history with the club would’ve been a huge gain. Instead, Gunners fans around the world are left to question why Wenger would let one of his former pupils go to a rival team.
The Blues reportedly signed the two-time European Champion for a fee in the region of £26-30 million. When the North London club moved the 2007-08 PFA Young Player of the Year to his boyhood club, the transfer fee was £35million with an additional £5 million if incentives were reached. Looking back, Arsenal could have asked for more. Fabregas only wanted to go to Barcelona. The club of his youth had been very interested in him, so the Gunners could have requested more and likely still had the same result. A similar situation happened with Tottenham Hotspur negotiating with Real Madrid over Gareth Bale’s transfer fee a few seasons back. Wenger unfortunately did the same thing a year later as he let Van Persie go to Manchester United for only £22.5million, with £1.5million in incentives if United won a Premier League or Champions League title within the next four years, after the Netherlands international won the Premier League Golden Boot and single-handily guaranteed Arsenal Champions League football for the next campaign. Manchester United won the league title the next season and Van Persie won the golden boot again.
It’s confusing how Fabregas’ value has dropped even though he’s improved as a player and improved in his versatility on the pitch. Some may counter that with Mesut Ozil on the team that Arsenal did not need another playmaker but the two-time La Liga champion can play in a deeper role, either on the wing or as a false nine as he’s displayed for Spain to outstanding results. Fabregas was scapegoated for much of Barcelona’s failure in the past season but he played well by tying for second in the league in assists while scoring 13 goals in all competitions.
The Gunners ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming back and defeating Hull City 3-2 in extra time to win the FA Cup. The club led the league this past season for 128 days, the longest out of any team, but injuries deterred the push for a league title. Fabregas would’ve added depth, which they desperately need, and displayed that Arsenal are serious on building from the success of the previous year. Instead they’ve remained stagnant as other Premier League teams acquire big talent. Liverpool acquired forward Rickie Lambert and Chelsea have reportedly signed forward Diego Costa as well who will add valuable pieces to their teams. Bacary Sagna seems to be on his way to Manchester City after he couldn’t agree to a new contract with the 13-time league winners.
While Arsenal may have finally won a trophy, Wenger is still up to his same ways in the transfer market. The 64-year-old recently signed a new three-year deal to remain the gaffer but’s he’s already off to a bad start in his new contract by letting Fabregas go to Chelsea.