After twenty eight glorious minutes against Aston Villa, Cesc Fabregas showed why he is Arsenal’s best player, and above all convinced me that he must not be sold in the summer. Since the young Catalan came to our club, I was so impressed with his maturity and ability to read the game, that I became an instant fan. I recall getting my shirt number sorted, and it was then that not even the staff in the Arsenal printing shop were certain about how to spell his name. he was yet to appear on the official lists.Yet after scoring his goal in the 5-1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Carling Cup, there was something about him that convinced me that he was going to be some player for Arsenal.
I managed to meet him soon afterwards and he seemed surprised that someone had his shirt number and even more so that I wanted his autograph. I treasure that shirt in my collection to this day. Each season, Fabregas has improved in some way, and perhaps since the mounting expectation of his departure to Barcelona I had resigned myself to losing our Captain. It seemed that Arsene Wenger would soon cash in on our player and accept an offer of 40 million pounds in order to strengthen the squad further.
There was something that unnerved me about his appointment as Captain, it followed the controversy about Gallas, and seemed to fit with Arsene Wenger’s strategy of giving the armband to the last two captains who were also the subject of intense transfer speculation, namely Paddy Vieira and Thierry Henry. It was almost a way to convince the player that to accept the captaincy and then leave the club shortly afterwards would be unthinkable. A form of emotional blackmail even.
The performance by Cesc yesterday was the most complete and potent performance that I have seen from the player in terms of the impact on the game and the significance of the result. Cesc has always been a big game player, and his goal against AC Milan in the Champions League 2007/8 season proved to all that he was world class and that he could provide the magic needed to become a match winner. This years World Cup will see him play more games for Spain and I expect the pressure for his departure to mount.
I had previously written that I would not blame Cesc if he left our club because of the failure of Wenger to provide the additional class talent alongside him. In fact I am now changing that view. I am changing it mainly because of the activities of the Arsenal Board in general and Kroenke Fiszman and Usmanov in particular. Arsenal Football Club will soon be the subject of a takeover battle and it is unclear who will win, but with only 17 shares left before Stan Kroenke is obliged to make a bid for the club, it is merely a question of timing. Alisher Usmanov seems unwilling to show his hand and continues to buy shares as a possible stragtegy to increase the base trading value. So many individuals getting richer at the fans expense, it makes me angry, when the playing squad is being starved of the investment needed to take this club to the next level. Finally through his transfer dealing and the intelligent selling of players Arsene Wenger has enough funds to make vital purchases as well as extend contracts.
I would first dispel any rumour that Fabregas is under a pre-contract agreement with Barcelona, Cesc is contracted to the club at least until 2014 and so under the rules a player cannot sign a pre-contract deal unless he is in the last year of his contract. The concerns about Cesc relate to the fact that he could buy out his contract for around 16 million next year. A sum that would be increased if additional contract extensions including a signing on fee were agreed. Fabregas loves our club and he wants to deliver a trophy to us. Yesterday he proved that he is now entering his prime. Remember that he is just 22 years of age. He is entering that five year window that world class midfielders of his talent seek to add trophies and victories worthy of their pedigree.
So if Fabregas’s best years as a player are yet to come, then this is why selling him next summer would amount to a gross betrayal of Arsenal fans who have been starved of success for the last five seasons. We could never buy a player of his class to replace him, so why do we need to replace someone that we already have? Arsene Wenger only sells players who have past their peak or who are unsettled. The selling of Thierry Henry proved that sometimes he gets it wrong. Barcelona were improved by the addition of Thierry Henry and he helped them to their most successful season ever in Spain. The inflated price received for Kolo Toure and Adebayor were opportunities to good to be missed. To sell Fabregas before he has delivered his best years for Arsenal Football Club would be just plain wrong.
I argue further that because we now have a transfer fund established, and with Arsenal Football club’s burgeoning academy of young talent, we have no need to cash in on Fabregas. If this were done it would only weaken our prospects of winning the Champions League. Yes we have Aaron Ramsey who would be a good replacement but he is not ready to take over the role of Fabregas in the first team. Denilson will never be in the same class, and unless there is something that I have missed there is one powerful message that we do not want to give to our best players, and that is if they wish to win the Champions League, then they have to leave Arsenal Football Club. This would be the greatest betrayal of all.