Cesc At Arsenal
When Arsenal sold Cesc Fabregas (back) to Barcelona in the summer of 2011, it felt like an inevitability. He had been trained in La Masia, and had expressed his love for the Catalonian club many times previously. However, there’s no doubting the damage done to the Arsenal midfield, and the psyche of the whole club, upon his departure.
The question is, who came off worse from his return to his boyhood club? Arsenal, Fabregas, or Barcelona?
In 212 appearances for the London club (yes, the London club), Fabregas scored 35 goals from centre midfield. He also racked up an impressive 70 assists, and had a presence on the pitch that opposition midfielders couldn’t contend with.
It stands to reason, then, that to lose a player with such influence would seriously damage Arsenals ability. In his seven years at Arsenal, they won on average 21 games a season. Since leaving, Arsenal have averaged over 22 wins a season.
While this isn’t a stark increase, it perhaps demonstrates that even the loss of the great Cesc Fabregas didn’t hurt Arsenal as much as people may have initially predicted.
Back to Barcelona
While one player can’t be held responsible for an entire team, Wenger has stated several times that the side was built around the Spaniard, and he was the core of the team. His loss, however, did not cause the entire side to unravel, which demonstrates the resilience of the Arsenal team.
By contrast, Barcelona won the league and Champions League double the year before Fabregas joined, and again the season after, winning the league once during his three-year tenure. He made 95 league appearances, and contributed to 0.62 goals per game for Barcelona, significantly higher than his 0.5 goals contributed per Arsenal game.
While his individual performances improved greatly at Barcelona, the team itself was depleted slightly, and he found himself sold in the summer of 2014, replaced by the box to box Rakitic, as Barcelona completed the treble.
Return to the Premier League
At Chelsea, he indeed has won two league titles, but his goals contributed to per game is 0.47, lower than his Arsenal average.
Since his departure from the club, players in a similar position to him have taken the reins, such as Wilshere and Ramsey, who, despite fewer goals per game in their still flourishing careers, have scored some vital goals for the club in recent seasons.
Players such as Mesut Ozil, who has racked up 0.54 goals contributed to per game since joining the club, have replaced the Spaniard, and Arsenal have won three times as many trophies since his departure.
The question, then, who is worse off, is essentially moot. Arsenal have improved without him, but no Arsenal fan would admit to being glad he left. Barcelona got the best years of Cesc Fabregas, but won fewer trophies than they would have liked, while Chelsea have won two league titles during his time in blue, despite him playing in (arguably) the worst form of his career.
The aim of this research was not to slander one of the best midfielders ever to pull on the red and white, but to be a warning to any player that may look beyond the Emirates for greener pastures. The grass is not always greener on the other side.