Queens of the Stone Age playing Long Slow Goodbye
There are signs that football's longest soap opera may finally be coming to a close. Arsenal has signaled its intention to negotiate after Barca indicated they're willing to improve on their previous bid for Cesc Fabregas. Sandro Rosell sent out a statement that the Gunners are looking at a figure in the region of £35m.
The deadline appears to be the start of pre-season next Tuesday which means if these negotiations succeed Fabregas will not have to return from his holiday in Spain. The club would also not like to keep anything hanging in balance before they depart for their China and Malaysia tour. The transfer issue would become a huge distraction for their fan base in that part of the world. Not exactly the best of circumstances to spread goodwill or their brand.
Barca's squad are already starting to sense this season might finally see Fabregas's homecoming. Sergio Busquets said this year it seemed much closer and brushed aside issues of compatibility stating that Fabregas would be comfortable playing alongside Xavi, Keita, and Thiago Alcantara. Pointing to his own experience with Mascherano he said the same negative things were said when the Liverpool midfielder joined last year but they clicked together.
Fabregas's transfer fee will be used to bring Juan Mata to Arsenal. The Valencia midfielder has a contract clause which states if an interested club offers an amount £20m and over he is eligible to leave or else his salary will have to be raised. Since Mata is already the highest paid club player a financially distressed Valencia is unlikely to entertain the latter option.
The fee will also likely cover the cost of bringing Ricardo Alvarez, yet another of Wenger's targets. There is still the issue of a landing at least one more quality centre back with the leading candidates being Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, or Christopher Samba. Lille's man of the moment Gervinho is also on the list. These will likely be funded by the sale/ sweetener deals of Arsenal's surplus players.
Fabregas's departure will be bittersweet - he's been Arsenal's poster boy for its attractive and attacking brand of football. A mere stripling when he joined he's now one of the sport's established stars. We've seen him grow, mature, and wage war. Those passes were classy, the vision impeccable, the attitude feisty. We always knew Arsenal were in with a chance when Fabregas was at the top of his game. But last season one saw for the first time a player visibly thinking of a future away. Yet despite a wavering heart and mind he was still easily the best attacking midfielder in the Premiership. Very few will grudge his return.