We are used to reading rubbish in the silly season, but one story this summer really takes the biscuit.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to guffaw over my cornflakes when I read the “Fabregas to Manchester United” stories that are doing the rounds.
At this time of year most transfer-related stories smell of fabrication and are written purely to fill column inches or garner online hits. But even in such company, the Cesc-to-Manchester-United fantasy really does stink the place out.
Before I explain why, let’s just remind ourselves of this quote from Cesc himself, shortly after he departed for Barcelona: “Apart from Arsenal and Barcelona, I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. I will definitely be going back (to Arsenal) whenever I have time to watch games and to see the guys… and if there is one place to go back to (to play), it is Arsenal for sure.”
Cesc was abundantly clear then that he would only return to the Premier League if it was to play for Arsenal.
Of course you might say (and with some justification): “Why should we believe the words of footballers? They are always quick to spout loyalty to a club then equally quick to demonstrate loyalty only to their wallet.”
It was about 18 months ago when Cesc gave the interview from which I have quoted and yes, it’s possible he could have changed his mind since then.
But – unlike Brave Sir Robin and the Fat French Benchwarmer – he is not a player known to be driven by greed (he even took a pay cut to join Barcelona).
However, there are other good reasons why Cesc to ManUre will never happen:
Firstly, why would a world class player join a club that is quite clearly at the high point of its “arc of success” and is about to start slipping down the far side?
United have been good enough to run away with the English Premier League this year, but no-one believes they are a great team. Meanwhile, in Europe, they have fallen even further behind the Continent’s powerhouses than they were when humiliated by Barcelona in the CL final in 2011.
Most perceptive observers believe that United over-achieved in the season just past and were helped by mismanagement and upheaval at Manchester City and Chelsea.
Secondly, one of the reasons for a top player joining United has long been the draw of old Mr Scarlet Proboscis himself: Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson (you didn’t know his parents gave him a middle name honouring a great Arsenal manager, did you?).
But Cyrano de Fergerac is no fool. He will always have wanted to bow out a champion and not a loser.
Having won the title this year, he undoubtedly surveyed the medium term prospects for his club and his playing staff and did not like what he saw.
He knows that, with their current squad, United will face a real struggle to hold on to their title next year and he also knows that without spending a hundred million pounds or more (which United cannot afford) they have no chance of competing with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Quite sensibly, he celebrated the title win and exited stage left.
So now any superstar thinking of joining the red half of Manchester has to consider the fact that they will be playing not for the most decorated and successful EPL manager of the last half century. Instead they will be lining up under some bloke from The Simpsons.
The idea of Cesc Fabregas agreeing to play under David Moyes is simply laughable.
Thirdly, if Cesc does want to return to the EPL and if, for some reason, he reneges on his assurance that he would return only to Arsenal, his destination is far more likely to be Manchester City than Manchester United.
The Northern Oilers are likely to be entering the new season under the stewardship of the highly respected Manuel Pellegrini – a much more attractive proposition for international stars than David Moyes. And, of course, for City money is not an issue.
Finally, it was widely reported that we have first option on Cesc if he wants to leave Barca. Do you really think we would not snap him up again given the chance?
So, having (I hope) properly put to bed all the nonsense about Cesc-to-United, there is one Huddlestone in the Room that needs addressing: would we – the supporters – want Cesc to return to The Home of Football and step out again in the colours of the mighty Arsenal?
I have seen comments in Arsenal Arsenal recently with differing views on the subject.
For me it’s a no-brainer. Cesc Fabreagas is one of the greatest footballers ever to have played for us. If we can get him back he can only improve us. And his return at a time when we are leaving the period of austerity (during which, let’s remember, he was instrumental in helping keep us even vaguely competitive while the club spent NOTHING on net transfers) and about to enter a new era of competitiveness could be the spark that really pushes us to domestic and European glory.
Do you agree?