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Would Selling Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona Necessarily Be A Bad Thing for Arsenal?


If, as is his reported wish, Cesc Fabregas is sold back to Barcelona, it would without doubt be a sad moment for the Premier League. Not only would it be a damning indictment of ‘The Best League In The World Ever’ ™ that influential players from three of the traditional Big Four had gone to Real Madrid and Barcelona in less than a year, but it would also mean the loss of a stunningly complete, world class midfielder from the league’s great aesthetes. But this does not mean that Arsenal as a club would suffer greatly from his loss.

It would mean that Samir Nasri, for instance, can be moved into the centre, where he has tended to flourish. In the last 16 game against Porto at the Emirates, Nasri was moved from his shackles on the right hand side of a three – into the position usually held by Fabregas. Nasri was exceptional. Not only did he do this, he played the telling pass for Nicklas Bendtner’s first goal – the first two, key goals in overturning a first leg deficit were because of his flair and brilliance. A few years ago he was being compared in quarters to Zinedine Zidane, for his performances as the attacking thrust of Marseille’s midfield; flash points with Hull City players have shown that he does not lack confidence in himself, or fierce competitiveness.

Whilst one game is perhaps too short a sample to be able to judge Nasri as a long term replacement for Fabregas, it is not as if Arsenal are short of midfield options to currently compensate if the club captain was to leave: Abou Diaby’s brand of bandy-legged roaming, it could be argued, has been inhibited by Fabregas’s presence in the side; being forced to become the ‘in-between’ player in a midfield three has meant that moments like this (also without Fabregas) have simply not happened on a regular basis. Denilson is by no means a great player but his more languid style would perhaps be more suited with a purely creative (Nasri), or purely physical (Diaby) presence alongside him, rather than the all-round brilliance of Fabregas: the Spaniard is a better player than either aforementioned Frenchmen, but is not different enough to Denilson to be a consistently effective counterpoint. As such Denilson, as the junior player, has often played deeper and indifferently in big games. Fabregas offers the same qualities to those offered individually offered by Diaby, Denilson and Nasri to the point that finding an effective ‘third wheel’ in the Arsenal midfield has been difficult for Arsene Wenger to put together on a consistent basis.

Moreover, the financial windfall from the sale of Fabregas would enable Wenger to have greater opportunity to address the problems elsewhere in his squad: a fee surely considerably over £30m would help Wenger buy a centre half (possibly someone like Kjaer, or anyone tall and quick) who could let one of Campbell or Silvestre be put out to pasture. Wenger, with the sale of Fabregas, would have greater scope to take out the series of elephants in the room holding Arsenal back – The Goalkeepers! Hugo Lloris, Gigi Buffon, Steve Mandanda, Joe Hart and friends could be prized from their clubs, should any sale of Fabregas allow more money for transfers.

Whilst on first glance it appears bad news for all concerned if Fabregas was to leave, a hefty transfer fee may enable Wenger to dispense over the rest of the squad, as well as possibly replace Fabregas’s output from within. Some questions, such as naming a new captain (surely Arshavin or Sagna if Gallas leaves) would arise if Fabregas were to leave, but that does not necessarily mean that selling Cesc Fabregas would be a bad thing for Arsenal.

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  1. john

    May 19, 2010 at 5:48 am

    i agree with jean christian.

    fabregas brings a degree of incisiveness an cohesion to our play which would be missed in the immediate future but this isnt something that wont in time be built up again by the likes of diaby and nasri and ofcourse rosicky, and ofcourse any replacements that may be bought.

    what we have to remember is that this is all speculation and rumour for the moment. nothing may materialise

  2. Falcao

    May 19, 2010 at 4:01 am

    I would love to see Fabregas play alongside Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Can Guardiola accommodate the deadful combination?

  3. Mike

    May 19, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Re Captaincy

    Arshavin are you having a laugh? Wenger would not make such a lazy and inconsistent player captain. Yes he is capable of brilliance but more often than not he disappears. Sagna won’t even be on the shortlist either.

    RVP is current vice captain and he will be made captain no question about it. Due to his injury proneness though, we would need a strong vice captain, so Clichy, Vermaelen and Song would be the obvious candidates.

  4. JSP

    May 19, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Stop Barcelona’s constant tapping up, fill in a complaint to this site now…..

  5. Seminole Gunner

    May 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I believe it would be something of a disaster if Arsenal sold Cesc. True, the sun would still rise the next day, the Emirates Stadium would not crumble, and there would still be an Arsenal. But I think it sends a bad message to supporters.

    Perhaps Nasri or Diaby could slot in and prove their class, but if they are successful will they be sold as well? If you’re willing to part with the face of your club in the prime of his career, no one is really safe.

    If Arsenal truly fancy themselves a top class club, they can’t be selling their best young star and club captain during a time when the manager and CEO are mandating trophies.

  6. Jean-Christian

    May 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    The reason why Arsenal fell apart in games without Fabregas is because the other integral players in the team didn’t have nearly the same chemistry or cohesiveness with each other as they did with Cesc. Without #4, Arshavin is a lazy winger with defensive liabilities and no propensity to make runs off the ball; with Cesc, Arshavin turns into that clever fireball we all know. The same can be said for most of the attacking players, and while the defense doesn’t generally hinge on Fabregas, it’s the weakest part of the team anyway.

    In my opinion, then, would losing Fabregas mean certain disaster? Depends on how you look at it.

    Short term (next season), without spending? Probably, if your definition of “disaster” is “not winning the Prem.” Not enough time to develop chemistry (at least until mid-season); not enough incoming talent to overwhelm the lack of team unity with individual brilliance. Enough talent to make a European place, at least, but likely no trophies.

    Long term (season 2 beyond) without spending? Losing Fabregas will hurt, but I have confidence that Nasri can play a similar role when he’s expected to perform in a creative, instrumental role on a regular basis. He would develop the necessary chemistry with the other key players throughout next season; link him with solid (if not extravagant) Chamakh, a (hopefully) re-motivated Arshavin, Bendtner (who will be fighting not to be the forgotten striker), and (in a near-perfect world) a healthy van Persie, and our attack could flourish with Nasri just as it did with Fabregas. Optimistic, yes, but I worry more about injuries and the rearguard than I worry about Nasri being able to run a “score one more” offense.

    Indeterminate future if we -do- spend? Disaster is doubtful. As always, losing Fabregas is a setback, but I would be inclined to believe we’ve dropped more points because of the backline and goalkeeper than we’ve gained points thanks to Cesc. Add the Cesc-sale money to the existing war chest, and bring in the world-class keeper we’ve pined for. Add at least one strong central defender, while continuing to prime Song for that role. Still fearful of a weakened midfield? Bring in someone like Gourcuff, who would bring immediate quality (not to mention instant chemistry with soon-to-be-former Bordeaux mate Chamakh). The money from the sale of Cesc would combine well with the increased confidence with which we can spend now (given the improving Arsenal financial situation).

    Of course, I’d prefer we kept Fabregas for many years to come, but I’m growing tired of the same “stay/go” story being repeated ad nauseam. I agree with the above comment by Eious, “Cesc is Arsenal,” but only to a certain extent; Cesc is Arsenal right now, and that itself is a problem. One-man teams are not built for extended success. Whether Cesc stays or goes, any future Arsenal glory relies on improving the squad as a whole.

    • LP

      May 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      “Cesc is Arsenal right now, and that itself is a problem. One-man teams are not built for extended success”

      Amen. And if some of the reports today are to be believed, Cesc may have wanted to hear from Wenger that that problem was going to be taken care of, but didn’t hear it. The upside of Cesc leaving (if the story is true) is that it forces Wenger to purchase more players, or to come clean as the skin flint some folks suspect he is.

  7. Eious

    May 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Good god, are you serious?

    Didn’t we hear this about Xavi last year too? Yes, we did by many Arsenal fans…it is ridiculous and just an excuse

    Cesc IS ARSENAL and losing him is terrible

  8. Rob McCluskey

    May 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Cesc leaving could be a lot like when kaka left A.C milan, they could really struggle after due to the massive part he plays in their squad, he is evidentley their best player and is going to leave a massive gap in their midfield, so who really can you replace him with?

    This has always been coming though, he wants to go back to Barca and theres not too many players that would turn down the chance to play for them.

  9. Michael Scallon

    May 18, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Re the captaincy – essentially there are a shortage of great candidates.

    Vermaelan – has been very poor in big games (at fault for both Barca goals, and Park Ji Sung’s at Emirates, has been demolished by Drogba etc), he looks quite scary but a good captain should be someone who when the going gets tough will be able to perform at a high level. If he improves next year, and doesn’t make naive mistakes like this season he’ll be a shoo-in one day.

    Sagna – He’s a senior player in that team, seasoned international – at his best can genuinely claim to be one of the best in the Premier League, and he plays very consistently against all opponents, rarely exposed like Vermaelen and Clichy have been against the big sides.

    Song – he’s a bit young, and while he could be a good choice he’s not really developed fully yet as a player. When he maybe bulks up a little more and plays at a consistently high level for another season or so maybe he’ll be in a better position to be captain then.

    RVP – the outstanding candidate but he gets injured a lot. I know it’s an old excuse but it’s true.

    Arshavin – obviously he might go, but if he doesn’t, the captaincy could be the making of him. His star has faded a bit but he may be reinvigorating with more responsibility. He’s not a dream candidate but it may be worth a punt if a) it helps him stay; and b) it motivates him to really become a leader. If not you can sell him and give it to Sagna or RVP if he can somehow promise not to get injured…

  10. Jake Islas

    May 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    I see what you’re getting at, but my feeling is that Cesc Fabregas is indispensable. His talent, experience, and leadership is not replaceable. I’m sorry but Nasri can not step into those shoes, not now or ever. He doesn’t have “IT”. Cesc is blessed with the “IT” factor, something that cannot be taught, he could just make things happen and take over a game, he wasn’t scared.

    That being said, I do not think you can look within the current squad to fill his role. As you said, Wenger would be set to receive a large transfer fee from Barca and would HAVE to use that to get a fill in for Fabregas, not just from a positional standpoint but also from the standpoint of ability to take over a game. Not for some 10-15 mil mediocre replacement which would be another project, a world class player is necessary to fill Cesc’s boots. Period.

    For me, the only candidates for captain should Fabregas leave are (in this order) Vermalean, RVP, and Song. Arshavin is not arm band material. Despite his recent desire to leave to Barca, he is lazy, selfish, and doesn’t possess qualities to lead a young team that needs trophies.

  11. phillpot52

    May 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Arshavin or Sagna?? Don’t be silly.

  12. borg

    May 18, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    bizarre and got weirder as i read. we will carry on if he leaves, as we did post viera and thierry – i thought we’d get one more year but c’est la vie. some good points raised, but chamakh is coming on a free mate, i think you’re the last person in the western world to realise, not 30mill and arshavin or sagna for captain!? surely tommy v, song or van persie would be more likely. speaking about samir in the attacking midfield slot, that was one game against porto, he didn’t really set the world alight ion that role afterwards and the cahmpions league is a completely different game.

    by the way, has anyone thought what it would’ve been like with a 22 year old cesc in the invincibles team, alongside henry, viera, pires, ljunberg, bergkamp etc. fucking hell! champions league would’ve been a given.

  13. trugun

    May 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Your analysis was going well until you mentioned your replacements for captain. Arshavin? the lazy useless article, can you imagine the trouble that man would cause if he had the arm band? Sagna just needs to concentrate on returning to the form of his first season, and in my opinion he doesn’t display leadership qualities. If the worst happens then wenger might do well to look at Tommy Vermaelen. Some I’m sure will go for RVP but for me strikers don’t sit right as captains.

    • Michael Scallon

      May 18, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      Arshavin would be a good captain I reckon, from my admittedly outsider look into the Arsenal situation. He’s got a big personality, and perhaps this will inspire him to get his act together for the good of the team. And if someone newer than him in the Arsenal squad, say Vermaelan to use your example, became captain before him, maybe he’d be a bit divisive in the dressing room. Obviously I don’t know this with any certainty whatsoever, but that’s the impression of him that I get.

      • Paul Bestall

        May 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

        The Arshavin issue is a situation worth keeping an eye on. He’s made no secret of his desire to leave Arsenal recently, so I think Wenger would steer clear of him as replacement. It wouldn’t surprise me if Arsene tries to move him on, as daft as that sounds.

        Vermaelan is a good choice in my opinion, he was clearly Arsenal’s stand out player this season and saw his reputation grow immensely throughout the year. Alex Song has also come on leaps and bounds over the last 18 months too, so would be in a with a good shout.

        It’ll be interesting, of that there is no doubt Michael.

        • Eric Truog

          May 18, 2010 at 10:02 pm

          Paul, if you’re referring to the whole “I’d love to play for Barcelona” routine we saw from Arshavin a week or two ago, I saw that too. Apparently he was misquoted through translation, as he came out and was quoted by SkySports saying that he would definitely finish his career at Arsenal.

          Anyway, I think he’d make a poor captain. Not sure he commands the respect necessary, he’s kind of an off and on player, and you rarely see him running back defending and putting in a really hard shift out there. Just my opinion. I like the Vermaelen proposal, only issue is that he’s only been there for a year.

  14. Paul Bestall

    May 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Chamakh’s a done deal sir, joins the Gunners July 1st. 😉

    • Michael Scallon

      May 18, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      Good point, well made. Duly edited. Apologies to all offended.

  15. pete

    May 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    You know not what you are talking about…

    [quote]would help Wenger buy the spare striker (presumably Chamakh) [/quote]

    do a little research..

  16. MistaKen

    May 18, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I don’t think Cesc leaving would be a disaster either. A lose but not a disaster – if we use the money (and more) wisely. Vermalen is the obvious captain for me.

    • Falcao

      May 19, 2010 at 4:03 am

      Seconded. Arsenal could invest their money to buy high profile signing maybe.

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