After almost three years of negotiations, speculation and transfer gossip the biggest transfer saga in history ended today with Cesc Fabregas finally sealing his move to Barcelona. The fee is understood to be £35 million with further add-ons depending upon the clubs success in La Liga and the Champions League.
It seems that the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reluctantly conceded defeat in attempting to hang onto his captain. The decision was inevitable as the pressure mounted on the French manager to sell. The young Catalan spent eight years at the North London side where he became their best and most influential player. He contributed regularly to the side and was even appointed captain during the 2008/9 season.
Speaking at the press conference this afternoon Fabregas said: “I waited many days, months, years for this moment. I return home after eight years. This will be the challenge of my life.” The joy on his face was clear to see for everyone around and the relief that the saga is finally over was clearly not lost on the player.
Much of the comment appears to focus around how much he will play. Many of the Arsenal fans seem to believe he will not figure much at the Catalan club and will have to settle for warming the bench; this is simply ludicrous. The modern game is built entirely around squad systems and rotating your best players so they are at their optimum for the big games. In the last three seasons at Arsenal he has endured several injuries which has restricted his playing time significantly. Indeed over the last three years the most he has played is 66% in 2009/10.
Over the recent years there have been significant injuries to Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez which has restricted the side. There is serious reason to suggest that if Iniesta had indeed been fit when they faced Inter Milan in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 09/10 they could have overcome the Italians. The emergence this summer of Thiago Alcantara has also added to the confusion but in a side with an abundance of quality there is always scope to add further excellence.
It is likely that Fabregas will indeed be eased in gently by the coach Pep Guardiola but he will certainly play in 40 odd games this season, starting with the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup. With Barcelona likely to be competing on every front this season he will certainly be a welcome addition and having played with many of the current squad for the Barcelona youth side and Spain the transition should be straight forward.
The move today will come as huge blow to Arsenal and indeed the whole of the Premier League. Fabregas has been one of the shining lights in the league for several seasons now and his contribution will be missed by all. The question for Arsenal now is how to replace their talisman and with only two weeks remaining in the transfer window Wenger must act quickly.