Finally, after what feels like an eternity of transfer period drama and constant hassling, Cesc Fabregas has been sold to Barcelona. He had made no secret of his desire to return to his childhood club and this deal has come as no surprise.
For Fabregas, the future most likely holds many trophies, success and in the immediate future ample bench time. But what does it hold for the Arsenal, the club he left behind?
It can not be questioned if Fabregas gave his all for Arsenal. He was a fantastic player for the club and will be sorely missed because of it. In the midst of constant questioning and baiting, he never publicly showed anything other than full respect for Arsenal. While the saga may have become tiring for the club and fans, keeping him around for the extra years was well worth it. The club is now facing numerous challenges and will have to deal with them properly in order to maintain top four status.
On the pitch, the club must find and develop a new “chosen one” that will lead the Gunners to glory. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey have both shown enough in recent years to give fans some hope. In time they will develop into two of the best midfielders in football. Wilshere, the 2010-2011 PFA Young player of The Year, is already one of the best and with some minor tweaks to his game will definitely be a star for the Gunners. Ramsey will certainly have benefited from a full pre-season and will be back to showing his full potential following his year out of the game. While neither are a carbon copy of Fabregas, they are both capable of being the playmaker in midfield and give Arsenal fans plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The team list has been significantly weakened as a result of this deal. Because of this, hopes are high that Wenger will utilise the transfer fee to purchase another player of Fabregas’ calibre. Juan Mata seems the perfect target and with Arsenal now-capable of offering the kind of money no sane club could turn down, it can be hoped that the club will end the transfer period with a new young Spaniard. Mata’s arrival would most certainly numb any post-Fabregas sadness and make fans ask “Nasri, who?” However, should there be no further arrivals at the Emirates, Wenger and the board will have some very angry supporters on their hands.
The club must also pick a new captain. With an average age of a fetus and very few players with ample Premier League experience, this may pose a difficult dilemma. Robin van Persie, the stand-in during the numerous games that Fabregas has been injured for, appears to be the obvious choice. He is the clubs most senior player, is universally well liked and respected and is a good leader. It can be questioned whether or not giving the club’s main goal scorer and focal point in attack the extra burden of captaincy is a wise move, but RVP is certainly up to the task. Thomas Vermaelen is another possibility to wear the armband. He is a steely player, never backs down and never stops fighting. His absence through injury last season cost Arsenal dearly due to his role as a leading central defender, and also the attitude that he brings. The club must choose wisely and pick a captain capable of leading the club to success. Arsenal were perhaps a good defender and good leadership away from a trophy last season. With Wenger in the market for defenders, it’s time to get the captaincy decision correct.
It is now time for the club to move forward without constant speculation over Fabregas’ future. It was not conducive for development to constantly have an asterisk next to their best player’s name. The club can now build a team who want to be there and will hopefully achieve great success. The list has the makings of an incredibly successful and talented team, even without golden boy Fabregas.
If Wenger does not deal with this transition well, it is possible the Arsenal will be in the hunt for both a new manager and a new captain. With a difficult August draw (and only one point gained from the trip to Newcastle) it appears that fans and the wider footballing community will know fairly soon if the Gunners are in for another season of disappointment and frustration. We can be certain though, that if dealt with properly the departure of Fabregas can be an opportunity for development and growth rather than a period of tragedy.