Cesc Fabregas is Arsenal's captain, star player, and highest earner, and as usual this summer the rumours about his future are in full flow. He left Barcelona as a 16 year old in 2003 to join Arsenal, and ever since his emergence as a World Class player they have wanted him back. It's easy for them to forget that they weren't overly concerned at losing him at the time, or he would have stayed with his home town club which he loved.
However, Cesc left Barcelona to join Arsenal in September 2003 as a 16 year old, and at the time he would hardly have guessed how quickly he would make an impact. He became the youngest player ever to play for Arsenal only a month later, and he followed that by becoming Arsenal's youngest goalscorer before the turn of the year. His league debut came the next season, and he also became Arsenal's youngest ever league goalscorer.
He gradually made himself a vitally important part of the Arsenal team, and even though he only turned 24 last month he has already played more than 300 times for the club. He has also played over 50 games for Spain despite having some of the best players in the world to compete against for a place. There is a commonly held view that he would only get to sit on the bench if he signed for Barcelona, but the amount of his appearances for Spain would suggest otherwise.
Cesc has made no secret of his love for Arsenal, and his appreciation for the part Arsene Wenger has played in him becoming one of the best players in the world. He wants to win trophies at Arsenal, but since his FA Cup medal of 1995 the cupboard has been bare. I'm sure Cesc would love to stay at Arsenal, and win a host of trophies for himself and the team.
Unfortunately from Arsenal's perspective Cesc also has a love for his former club, as he has supported them since he was a child. His family are all Barcelona fans too, and the draw of playing for the best team in the world has to be enormous for him. If he had the opportunity to rejoin Barcelona I'm sure he would take it, as long as Arsenal sanction the move.
He has given everything he has to Arsenal for the last eight years, and his commitment cannot be questioned in my opinion. His return for the last two seasons has not been quite up to the standard expected, but that's down to the terrible run of injuries he has had. When he has played he has given everything he has to the cause, but he needs the rest he is getting this summer if he ios going to continue his progress.
Having played in international tournaments with Spain for the last three summers Cesc has had no chance to rest, and it has led to a host of niggling injuries over the last two seasons. He only just managed to recover from a broken leg to play in the World Cup last summer, and then Spain went on to win the tournament. It meant he had virtually no break from football, and he only managed to start half of Arsenal's games as a result.
Barcelona spent all of last summer doing everything they could to unsettle Cesc, and it looked like it might have worked too. They made Arsenal an offer for his services, but Arsenal deemed the offer insufficient, and told them Cesc was not for sale at any price. Cesc took the decision from Arsenal very well, and he gave everything he had when he played for them.
They have already started their campaign to unsettle him again this summer, and the chances are they will make another offer well below his actual value. If Arsenal are going to sell Cesc to Barcelona it will only be for the price that the market decides, and that market is on an upward spiral at the moment. Cesc is still a few years away from his peak, and he has plenty of time left on his contract so Barcelona will have to offer at least €50 million in my opinion.
Even if Barcelona offer the going rate Arsenal can still decide to keep Cesc, and I would be surprised if Cesc objects to any decision the club makes. Arsenal can make it easier for him to stay if they go out and sign the players they need to sustain their challenge right through to the end of next season. At the moment the club are talking about doing just that, and hopefully they can find the right players at the right prices.
For the good of Arsenal the decision on Cesc's future has to be decided very soon so that plans for next season can be finalised. Wenger has said Cesc is going nowhere, and the club will do all they can to keep him as an Arsenal player. Hopefully Barcelona will get that message and back off, but I doubt it very much.
The best scenario for Arsenal might just be if Barcelona put in a realistic offer for Cesc, and Arsenal still reject it. It will leave Barcelona in doubt about Arsenal's intentions, and maybe everybody can move on then. However, I doubt if anything will make Barcelona go away, or if they will actually come up with a reasonable offer.
There are some Arsenal fans who think Cesc should be sold and the money should be used to strengthen the team, but I would like to know who they think the money should be spent on. There is no player in the Premier League I would prefer to have in the Arsenal team than Cesc, and there are very few in the whole world. Those that are good enough to adequately replace him are either out of Arsenal's price range, or Arsenal cannot afford their wages.
Of course if Cesc does go the club will go on, but I think the team might have to adapt to a different style of play without him. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, as the current style hasn't brought about any real success. No player is irreplaceable, but that's not a good enough reason to sell Arsenal's best player.
Cesc has shown over the last eight years how committed to the Arsenal cause he is, and he has earned the right to leave the club if he so wishes. I just hope he feels he has enough unfinished business at Arsenal to encourage him to stay and fulfill his potential and that of the team too.
That's it for today.
Here's a look at the great goal Cesc scored against The Spuds in 2009/10.
See You Tomorrow.