Selling Fabregas Is Not A Bad Idea For Arsenal

"Sometimes it feels like we [Arsenal] are always saying to the fans 'next year we'll be great, next year we'll do it' and they don't like that and nor do I. You have to win." - Cesc Fabregas

Mid-August and Cesc Fabregas still hasn't left the building. He didn't leave it for Malaysia, he didn't leave it for China and he didn't leave it for Germany. Most importantly of all, he hasn't yet left it for Barcelona. Just two days until the start of the Premier League season, four days until yet another clásico is upon us, and we wait for a final resolution. The good news is that there has been progress - this looks set to be finally over soon. Very soon.

Mostly, we have waited irritably; the vast majority of fans just want this finished. Even many Arsenal fans want a resolution - and not necessarily one that means Fabregas stays at Arsenal, because that would most likely mean just one thing: going through it all again next year. The weary attitude that has accompanied this summer's slowest moving of soap operas hints at the fact that this time is not the same as it was last year. This time it has long been hard to envisage Fabregas not leaving Arsenal for Barcelona - where Arsene Wenger and his board were steadfast before, this summer the discourse has been different almost from the start.

In Barcelona, Wenger has been attacked viciously for destroying the dreams of a player. How dare he try to keep his captain at the club? How dare he refuse to allow his player to leave easily? How dare he make Barcelona pay for one of the best midfielders around? In London, Barcelona has been attacked for "tapping" up Arsenal's captain, with Barca players constantly expressing a desire to have him join them at the Camp Nou. Again, the argument is an odd one: How dare they want to play alongside a great player - and, in a handful of cases, a great friend too?

The truth is that selling Fabregas is not necessarily a bad idea for Arsenal - and not just because it is likely to be counterproductive to keep a player who wants to be elsewhere. Arsenal have Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey has come back from injury in better shape than many feared. There are nagging doubts too about Fabregas's long-term fitness. Back in the spring, the midfielder sent an intriguing message to Wilshere noting how proud he was of having played so many games at such a young age but that it is "not good to do so." Could he have been talking about himself? Some at Arsenal believe so. And then there's the financial aspect: selling Fabregas removes a €5 million ($7.1M) a year wage and raises €40 million ($57M) in cash via his transfer fee.

That at least is the theory. And that has become the crux. Barcelona has been attacked for offering a "derisory" offer - in other words, one that fails to match, or come close to matching, Arsenal's valuation. All it have to do is give a decent amount of cash and it will be over has become the stock response. Which is true. But this is a market with no set prices: of course Barcelona has tried to bring the price down. On a player, incidentally, that Arsenal signed from them by taking advantage of a power vacuum at the club to get him on a free.

The Catalans are entitled to do so. There are no official prices. And, here's the thing: they don't actually have the money, certainly not up front, to pay what Arsenal have been asking for Fabregas. The late realization that it's frugality not sleight of hand that is behind Barcelona's negotiating tactic has helped - at last - to push the two parties closer together.

Fabregas was a key player at the European championships in 2008, playing brilliantly in the semifinal and the final for Spain. He provided the pass for Andres Iniesta to score the wining goal at the World Cup. He has two winners medals and the satisfaction of having made a big contribution. And yet he went into both competitions, and came out of both of them, a sub. Moving to Barcelona would immediately see his status increase. The chance to establish himself in the Barcelona team with his international team mates - which is itself a difficult task but Fabregas knows he has Pep Guardiola's backing - would cement that.

He might also win something at club level; it is no good being a team for the future; tomorrow never comes. And that is something that has come to obsess him. Fabregas himself said: "Sometimes it feels like we [Arsenal] are always saying to the fans 'next year we'll be great, next year we'll do it' and they don't like that and nor do I. You have to win."

And that was four years ago.

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