The 27-year-old Spain international moves back to England after three years in his homeland at his boyhood club Barcelona. His transfer from Arsenal after eight years in North London was one of the most protracted transfer sagas in recent memory, as the Catalans demanded he return to the Camp Nou.
However, after just three years with Barcelona, the club have now decided he is surplus to requirements in Spain and offered him to potential suitors around the continent this summer – his former club Arsenal had the first right of refusal but chose not to re-sign their former skipper.
Instead he signs for Premier League rivals Chelsea, much to the dissatisfaction of Arsenal fans to whom he had remained a prodigal son after his departure and as the Gunners’ fans try to make sense of the club’s lack of interest in bringing him back to the Emirates, their record signing Mesut Ozil has been suggested as the reason manager Arsene Wenger felt the club did not have a requirement for Fabregas.
However, Ozil’s signing last summer was not the only obstacle in any considerations to re-sign Fabregas. The emergence of Aaron Ramsey as the Gunners’ most influential midfield player this term may well have been the decisive factor in the manager’s thinking.
Premier League and Champions League football is dependent on a squad, not just a team or a starting XI – rotation is sacrosanct in the modern era of football and we saw this year, in the second half of the season, just how debilitating injuries to key players can be with both Ozil and Ramsey sidelined for long periods.
If you consider that Arsenal deploy one holding midfielder (Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini at present), one central midfielder (Ramsey or Wilshere) and one attacking playmaker (Ozil, Wilshere or Santi Cazorla) you can see immediately that there is plenty of cover and options in Wenger’s squad without even mentioning the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry or Abou Diaby.
However, if you took the new and immensely improved Aaron Ramsey out of the equation, there could have been an argument for signing Fabregas – Wilshere’s injury record and still relative inexperience would have been a consideration for the manager but with Ramsey now one of the first names on the team sheet, probably ahead of the young No.10 now, a move to sign Fabregas would have meant one of Arsenal’s most important players, Ozil or Ramsey, would have been ousted from the team.
The manager was not prepared to jeopardize the confidence and morale of his club record signing and from his pass on his option to sign the former skipper, we can see he was not willing to jeopardize the confidence, development and status of the young Welshman either. In that context, the presence of Mesut Ozil was likely less of a consideration than the resurgence of Aaron Ramsey this season as Arsenal’s most influential player of 2013/14.