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Spanish Inquisition: How Much Is Cesc Fabregas Worth To Barcelona?
07 June 2010 @ 15:50

Ahead of David Villa, Maicon, Angel Di Maria, and even Steven Gerrard, there is one name in Spain that seems to have eclipsed all others in becoming this summer’s transfer saga to follow: Cesc Fabregas.

The Arsenal midfielder had long been tipped for a return to his boyhood club, Barcelona, and over the course of this past season, the rumour mill kicked into high gear as it began churning a narrative that tied the 23-year-old midfielder to an imminent move back to Spain.

A target for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, the Spanish press sparked a media war as tabloids from both the Spanish and Catalunyan capitals began perpetuating claims that Fabregas would soon be prised away from north London to play for either Los Blancos or the Blaugrana.

Of course, once a Barca player, always a Barca player. As the 2009/10 season began to come to a close, Cesc publicly declared that if he were ever to play for a team besides Arsenal, he would only do so for Barca.

But while Fabregas may have had good relations with his former club, the Gunners were not all too enthralled with some of the Catalan giant’s very public advances toward their superstar captain and were particularly incensed with some of Barca president Joan Laporta’s bravado as he issued comments that made it sound as if bringing Cesc back to the Camp Nou was already a done deal.

So fragmented has the relationship between Laporta’s administration and Arsenal now become that in the dying days of Laporta’s presidency, pulling off the transfer coup that effectively marks the Barca president’s legacy at the club is now in danger of falling flat. As it stands now, Arsenal have resoundingly rejected a formal bid from Barca of just over £29 million and have vowed not to negotiate with the Spanish champions.

The player’s stated intentions are to leave the Gunners for his former club and a number of Barca players - Xavi, Carles Puyol, and Gerard Pique - have expressed their desire for the youngster to join them at the Camp Nou, but Cesc has also declared that he is unwilling to deal with such transfer speculation before the World Cup, instead choosing to concentrate on playing with Spain in this summer’s tournament in South Africa.

Thus, we have come to an impasse.

Initial reports claim that Laporta is set to launch another bid for Cesc this week with the hope of finalising the deal before Barca hold their presidential elections on June 13. But the truth is that the race against time, Fabregas’ desire to focus on the World Cup, and the unfavourable relations between Arsenal and Barca’s club directos could very well mean that Cesc’s possibilities of playing at Barca may fall outside of Laporta’s purview altogether, consequently delaying any kind of deal for the young midfielder until mid-July (after the World Cup).

In many ways, Fabregas’ transfer dealings between Laporta and Arsenal have begun to mirror Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon’s transfer push for Cristiano Ronaldo that ultimately angered the Manchester United hierarchy and made any initial possibility of a deal for the Portuguese superstar moot. Similarly, Laporta’s inability to remain diplomatic and respectful toward the London club may well have ruled him out of presenting Cesc as the final signing of his presidency.

The upcoming Barca elections are, therefore, pivotal to Cesc putting pen to paper for the Blaugrana. The leading candidate in the upcoming elections, Sandro Rosell, has flatly declared that €60 or €70 million (the price tag Arsenal have reportedly slapped on their captain) is far too great a price to pay for the playmaker.

Cesc is, of course, a premier player at his position and, at 23 years old, has nowhere to go but up. Given his age, ability, and potential for growth, the truth is that, in the wake of the inflated transfer market, if Fabregas is not worth €60-70 million, he is certainly not worth much less than that.

Real Madrid are, predictably, also playing their hand in an effort to influence the dealings. The chances that Cesc would play for Madrid are next to none. But despite that, Los Blancos could force Barca into paying far more than they would otherwise feel comfortable paying, if not ruling out the possibility of the young Gunner joining the Blaugrana altogether… at least for this summer.

With Madrid having pegged Fabregas as their “midfield transfer target” should the signing of Steven Gerrard fail, Los Blancos are effectively driving Cesc’s price up, forcing the Blaugrana to dig deeper into their wallet to meet the artificial demand. Fabregas’ signing for Barca could very well go through by the end of the summer, but if Madrid play their cards correctly, at what cost to their arch-rivals?

Would such a huge spending spree effectively demonstrate that Barca are just as much a Galactico-seeking club as their nemesis from the capital, or will the next Barca president insist upon the established Blaugrana model of building talent through the cantera rather than the chequebook and thus opt for the unpopular decision of foregoing Cesc’s signing?

And finally, there is the question of need. With such midfielders as Xavi - arguably the best midfield orchestrator in the world - Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets, along with a host of promising youth products in Thiago Alcantara and Jonathan Dos Santos, is Cesc’s signing for Barca, especially at what is widely anticipated to be an astronomical price, even necessary? How much of a potential move from London to Catalunya hinges upon need on the pitch as it does upon a desire to bring “the one that got away” back home, just as the club managed to do with Gerard Pique?

The World Cup may end on July 11, but it seems as if there will still be much drama and excitement in store before next year’s La Liga season kicks off. If David Villa's signing for Barca and Jose Mourinho's arrival at Madrid are anything to go by to start the warm months, it is bound to be a great summer for those who love the beautiful game.


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