Written by Oliver..
Two days after returning to London, Cesc Fabregas issued an official statement in which he committed his immediate future to Arsenal. He started off by apologizing to us Arsenal supporters for not speaking out earlier, stating he had not decided what he really wanted to do until “this moment”. He further indicated that he was (is?) seriously considering a move to Barcelona, and implying that the move did not happen primarily because of Arsenal’s refusal to sell. He paid tribute to Arsenal and us supporters and stated this issue is now closed and he will be completely focused for Arsenal, will not think of Barca and will give his absolute best for us. Here is the actual statement:
Firstly I would like to apologize to all the Arsenal fans for not speaking sooner about my future but I have not known what I was going to do until this moment,
‘I cannot deny that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me.
‘This was the club where I learned my football; it is my home town where my friends and family are and a club where I have always dreamed of playing.
‘There are not many players in the world who would not want to play for Barcelona.
‘I have had many conversations with Arsene Wenger both in person and over the phone over the last few months and although the content of those conversations will remain private, the conclusion is that Barcelona have had two formal offers rejected by Arsenal.
‘I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal’s prerogative not to sell me.
‘I owe a lot to the club, manager and the fans and I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal.
‘I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100 per cent focused on playing for Arsenal.
‘I am an Arsenal player and as soon as I step out on to the pitch that is the only club I will be thinking about.
‘I am looking forward to the start of the season and putting this speculation behind me.’
So that is that, then….Or is it?
Not quite. I think this statement will disappoint many in that it is not unequivocal enough to prevent future speculation. Given Cesc’s established stance that he would like to return to FC Barcelona someday, I did not really expect a long-term commitment. Perhaps he could have committed for the length of his existing contract, but that would not account for changing realities from season to season. A situation may arise in the next season or two where transferring Cesc to Barcelona is in the club’s best interest. Nevertheless, there are several things that Cesc said provide some insight into how he feels.
Those who have read my previous comments here on Avenell know where I stand on Cesc: throughout the summer, I felt that Cesc was struggling with which team he wanted to join. He is Captain of Arsenal, the team that made him what he is today. But he is also very publicly being courted by Barcelona, the team he grew up supporting, the one his family supports, and the one he began his youth career with. Add virtually the entire Barcelona team whispering in his ear during the six weeks before/during the World Cup, members of his family/inner circle quite possibly trying to engineer a move to Barcelona and hearing the Catalan media talk about him “returning home” day in and day out, and it is not difficult to see how his emotions may have been pulled in different directions. I also felt that he deliberately kept his silence – and I am not talking about the media-twisted and distorted quotes held up as proof he wanted to leave us – because he did not really know what he wanted to do and was not willing to say anything to possibly give one side and advantage over another, should transfer negotiations ever commence. Finally, I felt throughout the summer that if everything were equal – no external perception issues, an atmosphere for good negotiations existing – he would prefer a transfer to Barcelona. His statement seems to corroborate some of that, but certainly not all.
From Cesc’s statement, I infer that while he did not decide his preference “until this moment”, he had “leaned” a lot closer towards Barcelona than Arsenal than I suspected. I say this because he implies that his decision was mostly due to Arsenal’s refusal to sell, while also emphasizing the attraction Barcelona holds for him. That debunks my premise that he was genuinely undecided for much of the summer. Indeed, his statement about “respecting (Arsenal’s) decision” – with nothing said regarding his emotion towards it – indicates he will not elaborate on how he actually feels about it. Take what you will from that.
Cesc and Arsene both admitted to talking over the summer. No surprise there. I had felt, however, with the premise that with Cesc remaining undecided, he had never actually told Arsene that he preferred to go to Barcelona. Taking his statement as a whole, I now believe there was a point – possibly in a later conversation, and not the first or second (which the media constantly says Cesc told Arsene he wants to leave) – where Cesc did in fact tell Arsene that he would prefer a transfer to Barcelona and possibly even asked Arsene to start negotiating. It is likely (although not 100 per cent certain) that Arsene did not negotiate. I now think that Cesc wanted a transfer more than I had previously thought.
With all of the above, it appears as this summer’s saga will end as I thought it would: Captain Cesc leading the Arsenal team out on the Anfield pitch on August 15th. I know this is not the end of the saga, just one chapter. I further think that we will have intense transfer speculation about another important player next summer, not only Cesc. I do not know who it will be, but I think several players will have very good seasons – and if we win something, that will fuel speculation even more.
As Arsenal supporters we now have a choice. Support our Captain, take his words at face value and cheer our team on, believing he is the professional he says he is: perhaps disappointed at not transferring this summer, yet able to completely set that aside and give everything he has in him to lead our team to success this season. Able to put the future where it belongs – in the future – and concentrate on the here and now, Arsenal. Or do not support him. Demand his relief as Arsenal Captain for wanting to transfer to Barcelona this summer, expect an un-motivated, sulking, malcontent Cesc, and see our season collapse around us. Most of us will choose based on how we view Cesc’s actions and non-actions over the summer. For myself, I believe Cesc is fully committed to us for this season and will do everything he possibly can to help us win something. I will worry about the off-season in the off-season. The way I see it, so many things can change between now and the end of May, that I do not feel it is necessary to worry about that now. For those who choose not to support Cesc, you may well be proved correct in the end. But at this moment, we do not know how this season – and Cesc’s performance – will turn out. He says he “owes us a lot”. I feel I owe him my unconditional support. It is my choice and I feel it is the least I can do.
(this would not be an oliver post without a reference to my struggling baseball team, the new york mets, but not today. it is all about cesc today).