In a great interview with The Guardian, the 26-year-old who departed North London for his boyhood club Barcelona in 2011 revealed his affection for the club where he made his name and his hopes of returning to the Emirates one day.
Despite the suggestion this summer, I don’t anticipate the Spaniard will be planning a return any time in the near future but I’m sure Arsene Wenger would happily resign him down the line.
He was club captain and the best player in the team when he left but, in many ways, his departure forced Arsenal change – most notably changing their transfer policy.
Fabregas wasn’t the first or last in a long line of Arsenal’s top players who had abandoned them or absconded elsewhere, for a variety of different reasons including money, silverware and homesickness.
That same summer Arsenal lost Fabregas to the latter reasoning, they also lost Samir Nasri probably for the first reason and the summer after that they lost Robin van Persie for the middle reason.
This summer Arsenal kept all their players and brought in their record signing Mesut Ozil to join previous signings in the Fabregas model Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla. Arsenal have more attacking midfield playmakers than they can fit on the field at present – those two, along with Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Serge Gnabry, and the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby. Down in the young ranks they also have the very highly rated Gedion Zelalem and Thomas Eisfeld looking for a chance.
Cesc Fabregas is one of the best midfielders in the world – when he was at Arsenal he was undoubtedly the best midfielder in England – but in Catalonia he waits behind the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and even Lionel Messi for a place in the team.
Hypothetically, if Fabregas re-signed for Arsenal now (or in January which, I’m not suggesting he will) would he make the starting XI if all were fit and available? Arsenal deploy at least one more defensive or holding midfielder out of their central trio – usually, both or all of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey – as well as an attacking playmaker in Ozil, Cazorla or Wilshere.
Cazorla can be (and has been to good effect) deployed on the left wing in the absence of Lukas Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain and when Theo Walcott’s fit, he’s the first choice on the right channel, Ozil has to start surely, so where would Fabregas fit? He’d have to be considered an alternative to Ramsey or Wilshere perhaps in central midfield with Flamini or Arteta behind him.
But would you want to leave Ramsey or Wilshere out, especially given the former’s current form this season and the latter’s huge leadership presence? Ultimately, I think Fabregas has been adequately replaced now – that wasn’t always the case but in Cazorla and Ozil especially, Wenger has found the right technical level and creativity and in Wilshere and Arteta he has the commitment and passion of the former captain.
By the time Fabregas may be genuinely considering a return, many things will have likely changed at Arsenal – who even knows if Wenger will still be there, never mind which players might be – but, for the time being, Fabregas is doing fine at Barcelona and Arsenal are doing fine without him and, for now that is a happy ending that will suffice.
image: © ins11thiago