Time to clear the air on Cesc Fabregas

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Before I start this article, I wish to spare a few words for Tito Vilanova. Barcelona called for an unexpected press conference with news that Tito is set to resign after a second relapse in his fight against cancer.  The fact that Vilanova wanted to continue his tenure as Barca boss after his treatments in New York shows he’s a very determined person. It’s heart-warming to know he went out a champion in his dream job.  I wish him all the best and hope he is successful in beating this cancer.

Now for Cesc….

Friday morning, news spread about David Moyes confirming Manchester United’s bid for Cesc Fabregas.  He even confirmed that Woodward’s reason for returning early was to work on the deal.  All we’ve heard from Barcelona is that their VP has said they’re not listening to any offers for Fabregas and that he’s not for sale.  With news of Vilanova stepping down, the rumors will likely begin to circulate in England around Fabregas leaving Barcelona.  Tito and Fabregas have known each other for a long time and despite what some reports say, they have a very good friendship.  As it stands, no one knows who will replace Vilanova, but I doubt there will be any developments on Fabregas until the new manager comes in.

Now, let’s take a look at a few claims we’ve seen in the media on why Fabregas could move to United:

Claim #1: Barca are open to sell Fabregas as the club need money.

I’m not sure this is true. Papers reference the Neymar transfer as one reason the club need money.  Barcelona spent around £15m which is the transfer fee owed to Santos.  The rest of the money will be paid to third parties over the course of Neymar’s contract.  None of that money factors into Barcelona’s summer budget which is believed to be around 60m euros.  They’ve also sold Thiago for approximately £25m.  Barcelona’s debts have been decreasing since 2011 so they look to be in good shape as they bring in a lot of revenue.  What I suspect is that when the media refer to Barcelona’s debt, they are referring to “total liabilities”.  There is more than one definition of debt, but when you’re reading it in the paper or any other medium, they don’t directly tell you which one. In 2012, Barca’s total liabilities amounted to €578 million.  Sounds like a lot of debt doesn’t it?  Whether you know this or not, deferred income is also factored into total liabilities. In 2012, deferred income accounted for €104 million of Barcelona’s total liabilities.  What’s deferred income you ask? A good example is season ticket revenue for matches not yet played.  That’s right.  Money yet to be earned from season tickets can be considered  “debt” in very loose terms but really it’s not.  It’s viewed as a liability because accountants consider the cash received as not being fully earned until the matches actually take place. So total liabilities isn’t really the best indicator of how much a club really owes.  That won’t stop journalists and others using it as attention-grabbing debt figures though.

debt info source by swissramble  here

Claim #2: Fabregas considers a move to United with doubts over playing time.

There are three things to consider here. The first is does Fabregas really favor a move to United? If so, why? Talking with other United fans, it seems that most agree it’s because he’d be a first-choice starter, he’d be our new Scholes, linking up with van Persie and of course trophies. I fully support David Moyes as our new manager. But I think it’s a bit far-fetched to think we’re set to win the title just yet.  Let’s just say the midfield signing we pick up this season is Fellaini. Would that be convincing enough to say we’re favorites for the title again?  It’s true. The title is won in May and it’s certainly not won on paper, but Moyes is going to take time to adjust to this new environment. It’s a different pressure to what he experienced at Everton and I think it will require patience on our part even though we have a title-winning squad.  The guarantee of success left when Sir Alex stepped down. That doesn’t mean we as United fans shouldn’t be hopeful though.  We may just have to wait a little longer than expected.

Secondly, Fabregas got plenty of game time this past season.  He was only behind Valdes in La Liga starts (30) and while he was subbed off early in some of their games, I doubt each time was because he wasn’t fitting in with the tactical plan.  He has netted 11 goals this past season and provided 11 assists.  Not bad for a player considered to be on the periphery. If there was ever a reason not to sell Fabregas, his goalscoring exploits as a midfielder is certainly one of them.  Barcelona were criticized last season for being too dependent on Messi.  Selling Fabregas could make them even more dependent on the Argentinian maestro. It certainly wouldn’t be smart to expect Neymar to replace those stats with the Brazilian just arriving and doubts on whether he’ll even be a success at Camp Nou.  Fabregas has said he would reconsider his future if Barca decided to sell, but getting him to sign won’t be as straightforward as we’d like to think. I’ll explain why a bit later.

Thirdly, this could be a ploy by his agent. One of the justifications for why Fabregas may move to United is because the club wouldn’t have gone public with the bid and Woodward wouldn’t have left the tour early if there wasn’t some type of encouragement by Barcelona or the player himself.  This could be true but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that Fabregas’ agent is using United’s willingness to buy the player to sweeten a potential for Cesc’s former employers.

Claim #3: Arsenal are set to pass on the option of buying Cesc back as they have other priorities.

This is the one claim I find to be most outlandish.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.  At the beginning of the summer, we heard Arsenal brag about their warchest and that they could even afford to buy the likes of Rooney.  We all know they really want to bring in a striker but I’m sure they have enough money to fund that and bring Fabregas back to the Emirates. This gives me an opportunity to talk about the first option clause. There seems to be a misconception regarding what this first option clause really means and I hope I’ve gotten it right now after not reading it correctly the first time.

First off, it is NOT a buy-back clause.  Arsenal cannot just go up to Barca with £25m and say “We’re taking Cesc now and there’s nothing you can do about it”.  Here’s my understanding of the clause:

  1. If Barca receive an offer, let’s say United since we’ve confirmed bidding for him, and accept it, Arsenal can use their first option/first refusal clause in Fabregas’ contract.  What does this mean?  No matter the offer, Arsenal can buy him back for roughly £25m and there’s nothing Barcelona or United can do about it.
  2. If Barca accept an offer from United and Cesc only wants to go to United, then Arsenal will have to concede defeat and let him go to United.

So if Arsenal have worked so hard to put a first option clause in Fabregas’ contract, why would they suddenly bypass the chance of getting him when he’s available? If I was an Arsenal fan and United bought Cesc even though he wanted to return to Arsenal, and I find out the club decided not to use the option which gives them the power to easily buy him back, I’d be quite livid! I don’t think #2 will happen for a number of reasons.

There’s been little indication Fabregas actually wants to go to United.  We’ve only heard rumors that he would be open to the move.  Like I said before, this could be a ploy by his agent. Now that we’ve looked at this first option clause, it makes sense why his agent would tell United Fabregas is open to the move. It makes it easier for Cesc to go back to Arsenal.  Secondly, why would Arsene Wenger pass up on one of his favorite players? He has worked with Cesc ever since the age of 16 and seen him become a fine player.  There’s an emotional value as well as a financial one and I’m sure Wenger is monitoring the current situation very closely.  I see it similarly to Sir Alex’s relationship with Ronaldo.  Sir Alex made no secret to his desire of working with Cristiano again when he was manager.  If Sir Alex knew Ronaldo was available, don’t you think he’d fight hard to bring him back to United?  I think Wenger views it the same way with Fabregas.  The player has also made it known that he’d be open to returning to Arsenal. Look at the following quotes back in 2011:

Apart from Arsenal and Barcelona, I don’t see myself playing anywhere else,’ he told Sky Sports News. ‘I will definitely be going back (to Arsenal) whenever I have time to watch games and to see the guys, and you never know in the future, why not? ‘I hope I will stay here for a very long time, and maybe even retire him, but why not? In life, you can never say never, and if there is one place to go back to, it is Arsenal for sure.”

What has changed since then that would suddenly make him want to choose United? Wenger is still there and they’re in a better financial situation than when he left. His return would a be a major boost to their club and challenging for the title.  We also know that by phone, Sir Alex and Ronaldo regularly stay in contact with each other.  It seems to be the same with Wenger & Fabregas and I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger’s been planning for Cesc’s return with his recent quotes.

So if Fabregas is considering leaving Barcelona, I think he’s headed back to Arsenal.  It’s either that or he’s staying unless he wants to return to England and Arsenal somehow dont want to him back or he’s set his heart on United.

If Fabregas is going to stay, here are two views from Barcelon fans Rafael Hernandez (@RafaelH117) & “El Pulpo De Badia” (@ousbass) supporting why he will remain at Camp Nou:

Rafael H: (on Cesc’s status at Barcelona) “Fàbregas is not one of the favorite players for the fans, he’s undersappreciated and heavily criticized. I don’t like Cesc that much to be sincere with you, but he’s necessary to the club. Cesc is necessary, he offers many alternatives to our midfield, and Xavi can’t play regularly anymore.” (on Barca’s debt) “Barcelona doesn’t have any financial problems, it’s fake, the debt is getting smaller every year, Rosell is doing a good job at this. Rosell can’t let Cesc after Thiago, he knows he won’t last long if he sells for less than 40-50m”  When I asked him about Tito’s resignation linked with Cesc’s departure, he told me it’s “completely unrelated”.

“El Pulpo de Badia”: 1.lack of attacking mids 2.cesc is a coach desired player 3.he’s important to barçanolism 4.him leaving could cost rosell presidency

So there you have it. The many reasons why I think Fabregas won’t become a United player. He’s a player I’d gladly welcome but I think this deal is out of our hands. It’s possible we’re really confident as we’ve heard from the player that he wants to move to us and all that I’ve written would be essentially futile. But if I were to place a bet, I would bet on Fabregas going back to Arsenal rather than United. Cesc’s respect for Wenger is unquestionable and I think he views Wenger similarly to how Thiago views Pep. As a “unique coach”.  We will see what happens soon but don’t be surprised if Fabregas is not donning the United jersey next season.  If he is, it would be a massive and I repeat massive coup!

As always, thanks for reading.

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  • As an Arsenal fan we have been discussing possible return of Cesc and fully agree cant see Arsene letting opportunity pass by to resign him at his prime. They do seem to have the same relationship an Sir Alex and Ronaldo had. He would be a fantastic signing for you just what you need but like you can’t see it happening.

  • I came across this as it’s on Arsenal newsnow (I’m an Arsenal fan)

    It was an excellent and well researched piece. Enjoyed reading it. Cheers.

  • No problem. I know our fans wont be happy reading this but I’ve had enough “clutching at straws”.

  • I have been very supportive of AW especially middle of last season when he was under the most pressure I’ve seen, but to give up the option of resigning Cesc would push most over the edge

  • A great review on the Fabregas saga that started when Man Utd missed on Thiago. the writer went back 2 years ago to bring evidence on why fabregas is only staying in the Camp Nou or going back to the Emirates. this is the perfect piece to understand the complexity of the move

  • Great post, very insightful and balanced and as a gooner i do agree with you in that there will be three logical outcomes in this order:

    1)Cesc stays at Barca (Which i believe will happen)

    2)He leaves his motherland and returns to his father (Which i think he wants to do deep down)

    3)He joins United (Which i think is a long shot unless Wenger passes up on him which would be akin to playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded uzi)

  • It was high time a fan with common sense explain why Cesc is NOT going to OT as most of the other MU fans seem to have lost their minds.
    P.S. And don’t forget about the “pizza gate”…

  • No #3 claim has another flaw though. If Fabregas wants to move back to Arsenal he’d have to fuck Barcelona over with them taking a huge hit with the transfer fee if another clubs bid gets accepted.

    Maybe not his problem in the end, but saying that he truly loves his boyhood club and do anything to get there only to play a sneaky stunt when he may wanna leave seems also far fetched.

    I also have a hard time seeing him at OT, but that he’s using his agent to get back to Arsenal for a cut fee ( as Afc of course can buy him anyway if they reach an agreement with FcB like any other club ) doesn’t either seem likely.

  • How would he be fucking Barcelona over if they’re the one accepting the bid? they would be putting themselves in that position knowing Cesc would only consider moving if they are willing to sell him.

  • So Fabregas agent is out there trying to get a bid from UTD to test Barcelona loyalty, and if Barcelona where to accept a bid for him he would feel unwanted and keen to join Afc again?

    Ok then, never say never. I’m sure Afc would love to have him back and I’m sure Fabregas would consider it.

    But that UTD in this particular case would only make a huge bid without having no idea if Fabregas would considering leaving for the club doesn’t seem likely. UTD need to be pretty sure he’ll pick them before Afc to not look like they were played.
    Don’t think Moyes want to hand out birthdays presents to Wenger that easily.

    For more conspiracy theorys, it might be a swap. Fabregas to UTD and Rooney to Afc, and this is why Afc wouldn’t use the “first option” clause?

    Great article btw, just posting my thoughts

  • Yeah that’s fine but United have been fooled before. It could very well happen again. I’m not underestimating Cesc’s love and respect for Arsenal & Wenger. Maybe our management have. We’ll see.

  • Great piece, agree with much of it. But re Barca’s money issues, isn’t it more that they want the money to buy a centre back rather than they need the money in general?

    Also, what’s the original source for the Fabregas clause? It sounds strange to me that Arsenal would have this in place and not have told everyone about it.

  • Maybe but in my opinion, that’s silly to sell a versatile center mid like Fabregas. Strengthening one area while potentially weakening another. Google “goonerinbarca”. I don’t have the link on me right now. There may be a reason why Arsenal aren’t so vocal about it.

  • Looked up the blog. Interesting. Guess we’ll just see how it plays out. I’m still sceptical about the Arsenal clause but am definitely in the no-chance-he’ll-move-to-us camp.

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