The front page of Catalan paper Sport today has claimed that Manchester United are preparing a €53 million offer for Fabregas, while Madrid-based paper Marca has stated that Fabregas “will be allowed to leave the club in the summer”. Fabregas’ exclusion from Barcelona’s 2014/15 kit promotion has further intensified the rumors.
After his dream move to Barcelona in the summer of 2011 for an initial fee of £35 million (plus £5 million in variables), things haven’t gone well for Fabregas.
A leader at Arsenal, the 27-year-old was seen as a replacement for Xavi Hernandez, automatically degrading him to a squad player. With Xavi showing little signs of slowing down under Pep Guardiola and later, Tito Vilanovo, Fabregas became surplus to the requirements. Guardiola wanted the midfielder to leave but selling him was not option after the lengths to which the club had gone to bring him back.
Fabregas initially flourished in Guardiola’s 3-4-3 formation, playing behind Lionel Messi in the midfield diamond. But a return to the 4-3-3 meant Fabregas was either pitted alongside Xavi in midfield or played in Messi’s false-nine role. And he never really reached his Arsenal form in that set-up.
Soon, there were talks of him leaving the club. Last season, Manchester United came ahead with two optimistic bids- one worth £30 million and the other worth £35 million. Barcelona rejected both of them and Fabregas later explained that he never intended to leave the Catalans.
He told the Sun at the time: 'I would not have moved for double the money. Nor triple. No. I've paid out of my pocket to play for Barca. I earned more at Arsenal. There are dreams and this was mine since I was a child.
'United never spoke with me. Obviously when a club wants you they have to do it with the club and they don't necessarily have to speak to the player.
'What I want is to stay at Barcelona, win with Barcelona and stay here many years. I want to become and idol. I will fight for this and to lift many leagues and Champions Leagues with Barcelona.'
After declining a move back to England last summer, things started to improve under Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Despite not having a definite positions, Fabregas played the maximum number of games among all Barcelona players last season (55). He was involved in six of Barcelona’s first 11 goals of the season.
Things looked good before Fabregas hit a rough patch of form and was made the scapegoat for all of his team’s failings this term. Things turned worse when Fabregas was “booed by a significant chunk of the Camp Nou crowd during Barca's 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao”.
And as we enter the summer transfer window, Fabregas' future looks bleak and blur.
Reports suggest Barcelona want to get rid of Fabregas. They want to raise funds for a massive overhaul in the summer and will replace Fabregas with a more mobile and pacey midfielder.
United evidently have been linked with Fabregas but there are three roadblocks for the deal to happen.
The first is Fabregas himself. He has often spoken about his desire to stay at Barcelona. He is close friends with Gerard Pique and Messi and is raising his children in Barcelona. Would he want his entire family to shift to Manchester when there are better options available as well (London, anyone?)? No.
Second, is Barcelona and their fans. The club worked very hard to bring him back to the club and were desperate to keep him last summer when United came calling, fearing a backlash from the fans. But now, even though fans might want him out, do Barcelona feel the same? I highly doubt that.
And, the final roadblock is Fabregas’ options if he is to leave.
United have roped in Louis van Gaal to turn the club’s fortunes around and have a reported £200 million to spend in the summer. However, the Red Devils United have just endured their worst season since the inception of the Premier League and more importantly, they missed out on the Champions League. This could be a problem in persuading Fabregas to join United as the former described his Champions League experience with Barcelona as a “dream” and he has set himself a “challenge” to win the illustrious trophy.
If Fabregas is for sale, he will find clubs that will be in much better on-field position to fulfill his European dream- Chelsea, Manchester City or his old abode Arsenal. Talking about the latter, Fabregas had stated last year that he won’t play for any English team besides the Gunners.
"Apart from Arsenal and Barcelona, I don't see myself playing anywhere else," he said a few months after signing at the Nou Camp.
Money talks but that has never been a motive for Fabregas. After all, he took a pay-cut to join Barcelona.
Arsenal have the first refusal on Fabregas, the funds to buy him back and an emotional leverage. Fabregas is a Gunner and loves Arsenal. For many Arsenal fans, he is up there with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. Joining United will a betrayal to the Arsenal fans and the Spain international doesn’t need to do that. Currently, Arsenal are a more logical choice than United. In fact, joining latter could be suicidal, as per Daniel De Rossi.
Moreover, London pips Manchester when it comes to the lifestyle of the area, something Fabregas will surely consider owing to his children.
Fabregas is odds-on favourite to join United in the summer. But I don’t see that happening. Monday’s board meeting will give us a clearer view and tell us whether Fabregas is even for sale. Right now, there are only rumours and gossips. United surely want Fabregas, but the chances of this transfer happening look slim.