Poor Cesc: torn between the love for his adopted family in London and his birth family in Catalonia, he decided last summer to return to his original home, only to find himself not fitting in properly there anymore.
Two’s company, three’s a crowd and you could not find a finer, more strongly joined-at-the-hips couple than the phenomenal central midfielders of Iniesta and Xavi. As fully expected, Cesc has lost out, at least for the moment.
Cesc has suffered a season of being compromised to somehow fit into the Barca team, and although he has shown a fantastic ability to adapt and continue his successful career – 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games is very impressive indeed – this season, under the new manager Vilanova, it has all become too much, or should I say too little for him; finding himself more regularly on the bench than on the pitch, and seldom being played in his most natural, and favoured position. During a recent interview it became clear that all is not well with Fabregas, as it would take some doing for the normally diplomatic and always professional ex-captain to speak out like that.
I wonder how he really feels now; whether he has any regrets regarding his decision last year to leave his beloved Arsenal – let there be no doubt that he really loves Arsenal and respects Arsene as no other in the world of football – for his homeland; the place where he grew up, and learned most of his football.
I was sad to see him go, but never angry with him. Having left my home country to live in England in my twenties, I know exactly how it feels when you start feeling homesick. Moving at a very tender age to another country, away from your family and friends and everything you know, is especially not to be pooh-poohed at. Without any doubt, he will have felt homesick and lonely on many occasions during his teenage and early-twenty years in London, and at one point the longing to return home can simply no longer be ignored. Only those of you who have lived abroad for a long period will really know what I am talking about.
The call from Barcelona’s manager and boyhood hero, Guardiola, and their players – many of them his friends – was simply too sweet for him to ignore anymore. The flesh is weak but the blood is even weaker, and Cesc was born with Catalonian blood, one of the most patriotic areas in the world. Arsene could not hold him anymore and had to let his prodigy go.
At the time of his imminent departure, I humbly dedicated a post to him urging him to stay at Arsenal for a few more years; saying that now was not the right time to leave Arsenal. His job at Arsenal had not been completed and at Barcelona they did not really need him, at least for the time being. For me, it was all a matter of timing. Inevitably, he would return one day to Barcelona but he should only do so if and when they really needed him.
They didn’t and still don’t need him, and the new manager is, understandably, less willing to somehow fit Cesc in. Cesc is getting restless and might find himself now snookered on the bench of the Nou Camp. The faith of many an Ex-Gunner it seems…
In an interview last season, he said how he always tries to watch all games Arsenal play, and will only miss a game if and when Barcelona and Arsenal play simultaneously. So he will have noticed how his friend and fellow Spaniard – the more mature and seemingly fully adapted to living in England – Arteta has been faring at Arsenal: how he did not fill his spot per se, but nevertheless has fully won over the hearts of the fans with his disciplined and effective displays as one of the deeper laying midfielders.
He must have been wondering how it would be to play alongside the hard working and enthusiastic Basque, and seeing brave sir robin having the season of his life must also have had some impact on him. He will have seen the gap he left behind and was not filled properly last year, and how he could have been really needed, really wanted, and really loved back in London. A love he can only dream of at the Nou Camp.
This feeling of possibly missing out on something will only have become stronger when another fellow countryman and national team colleague, Cazorla, joined Arsenal a month ago. Santi has won over the fans and critics in no time, and has finally filled the gap that Cesc left gaping open for a year.
Besides that, Diaby is showing signs of finally finding and maintaining full fitness and since his departure Arsene has re-invested the income from player-sales in experienced, 25+ year old, quality players – something Cesc had been asking Arsenal for during the last years at our club.
Poor Cesc: he is being torn to pieces between two sets of Spaniards.
On the one hand, Xavi and Iniesta are too good and keeping him out of the first choice team at Barcelona, and on the other hand, both Arteta and Cazorla are inadvertently rubbing in what he is missing out on. Some will say, it is just what he deserves, but I feel truly sorry for him for this cruel twist of fate.
Yes, he did not behave impeccably towards the last few months of his Arsenal career: he might have put his physical (and possibly his mental) health before the needs of the club, and he should not have attended the Spanish GP, but for feck sake, didn’t he give his all for us from the moment he was positioned next to PV4, many years away from becoming a fully grown man?
Our current, new team is one in which Cesc, without any doubt, would love to play, and I would not be surprised if he does not feel at least some regret for leaving us last season.
I would love it if he would return to Arsenal, and rather sooner than later, but it would require more than a small miracle. It would be fantastic if we could field all three Spaniards in our midfield and Cesc and Santi could alternate between the deeper laying and more advanced midfield positions.
But it would mean that the likes of Diaby, Ramsey, Coquelin and JW would be on the bench a lot, or even have to be moved on, and I cannot see Wenger wanting that. Besides, Cesc would be expensive to buy as Barcelona would undoubtedly be hoping to get back most of the money they paid us.
However, of all the players Wenger has developed over the years, Cesc was very special to him; perhaps the most special of all. Cesc was the on-field embodiment of how Arsene wants to play football, his fulcrum, his conductor. There was no doubt how much Arsene regretted having to let Cesc leave for Barca last summer and what a hole he left in his team subsequently. Let there be also no doubt how much Arsene fought for his captain to stay at his adopted home.
And if there is one player I expect Wenger will do everything for, it is for his forlorn son. And that’s why it is still possible we will see Cesc back in the shirt that made him big, at the club where he is loved the most and he fits in to like a glove, and where there is a manager who would once again allow him to conduct the sweetest tunes of football.