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The Great Cesc Fàbregas Transfer Saga: what’s really going on



I believe the transfer or non-transfer of Cesc to Barca-loan-us involves three factors, only one of which has anything to do with the simple transfer of a player from one club to another.

Here’s the three parts…

Part One: The simple concept of the transfer. This is easy to deal with: Barca-loan say they want to buy the player and they have made a bid.  Arsenal say they don’t want to sell the player, who is under a long term contract, and have rejected the bid.  Even supporters of the Tiny Totts can grasp that one, and there’s a rumour that one of the writers in the Sun once understood it too, but then he had one more drink and the idea was lost for all time.

Now onto part two: the Barca-loan obsession with Fàbregas.

At Barca-loan Fàbregas was a youth star playing for Spain’s U17s in the  World Championship, where he was named best player and top goalscorer.  So how could he be allowed to leave?

The common story is that Fàbregas felt that he would not get any chance in a first team squad packed with stars, so he was looking elsewhere.  A second part of the story is that Fàbregas’ parents divorced, and he felt alienated from the city.  A third part of the story is that Barca-loan didn’t do enough to keep him – but as we know with young players there is a limit as to what you can do in terms of contracts, and tying players to chairs until they agree is not really what it is all about these days.

Whatever the final reason, Fàbregas left, became a star, and ever since Real Mad supporters have been rubbing Barca-loan supporters’ collective noses in it.  “You really must look after your children better!”  Ho ho.

So Barca have the Fàbregas obsession.  It is not as if they actually need him in a team with big holes in it, and it is not as if there is no one else.  They are just obsessed because they lost him in the first place.



But there is a third part to the transfer story – and this is one that is less often mentioned.

Newspapers love to make out that transfers are “Part One” issues – the simple transfer in the classic mould.  Arsenal need a new centre forward so we buy Joe Baker – that sort of thing (if you know your Arsenal history).

The reasons newspapers propagate such tales are that a) such tales are easy to understand and so easy to write about (no stretching of the journalist’s or reader’s intellect in such a story) and b) it allows newspapers to pretend that they have inside information about this particular player moving to that particular club.

But if you look at what was circulating in the British newspapers on 14th June 2010 you might wonder if there was something else going on.  Here are some of the stories from that single day…

  • From Liverpool to Barca-loan: Torres, £70m
  • From Liverpool to Chelsea: Benayoun, £6.5m
  • From Liverpool to Chelsea: Babel
  • From Liverpool to anyone who will take him: Riera
  • From Liverpool to anyone who will take him: Degan
  • From Liverpool to anyone who will take him: Cavalieri
  • From Liverpool to Real Mad or Barca-loan: Gerrard, £40m
  • From Liverpool to Inter: Mascherano
  • From Liverpool to Inter: Johnson
  • From Barca to Man City: Yaya Toure

Now you might notice something of a thread here – that is that quite a few of those players play for Liverpool.

Of course after several years of preaching the fact that journalists make these things up I am not going to suddenly say we must believe the papers, but even by the standards of the gutter press, that is still quite an amazing list since it runs across seven papers.

The fact that everyone in their own way is running a transfer out of Liverpool story (apart from the final journalist who seemed to get a bit confused) is extraordinary.  And although many of the tales are bound to be untrue I do think that it is a reflection of what is happening at Liverpool.

And what is happening at Liverpool directly affects the transfer of Cesc, and a lot of other transfers too.

My view, for what it is worth, is that Liverpool is surrounded by the vultures.  (Actually Liverpool is always surrounded by vultures, nibbling at the road kill and the drunks, but today I mean it metaphorically).

Liverpool FC is hovering on the edge of a total collapse in the style of Leeds Untidy, with the nickname this site gave them two years ago (Liverpool Insolvency) coming home to roost.

The Chelsea supporting chairman imposed by RBS as a condition of it continuing its loan, and not winding the club up, is there to find a buyer.  The current owners are holding out for a ludicrously high price which gives them a profit.   The club not only has the debts of which I wrote the other day, it also desperately needs £100m to pay the bank now.  (That money is now two months overdue, and the interest on that alone is crippling).  The auditors have said that there are grave doubts about the ability of the club to continue trading.  The bankers are still furious that the money given for the new ground (“work will start within a month of us taking the club over”) was used for the buyout.  The manager has left with £6m in his pocket.

Now I know that the dear little fellow, Redknapp the Lesser, said that the manager had to go because the club didn’t trust him to spend the £35m that they have for transfers, but I think we can pat Redknapp the Lesser on the head (remembering to wipe our hands after) and shuffle on.  If RBS saw Liverpool spend money on players they would call in the loan tomorrow.

So, the vultures gather.

But here is where the metaphor breaks down. Vultures tell each other there is dead meat in Liverpool 8 by circling over it.  Football clubs looking for a decent player at a sale price tend not to advertise the fact either to other clubs or to the selling club, for fear of upping the price.

Liverpool need to sell, and want the best price.  If no one wants to buy, the price sinks, and since Liverpool must sell, the price goes lower.

So leaving aside the two obvious stars in the Liverpool team, clubs are playing it quiet, and keeping their slobbering mouths as shut as they can, pretending that they want to buy someone else.  Someone like, oh, I don’t know, hey, how about that Cesc Fàbregas fella.   For Barca-loan talking about buying Cesc keeps the supporters happy, feeds the obsession, and detracts from the fact that they might want to bid for Torres and/or Gerrard, or maybe anyone else in the squad.

So the game is played. The real aim is to hold off with the bids until late in the transfer window by which time the chairman and those jolly nice people who run the banks exactly as they have always run them (for their benefit and no one else’s) get edgy.  The players must be sold, so the price will slip.  Barca-loan will be offering half the asking price, and when it is turned down will be saying, “Oh well, never mind, we are getting Cesc Fàbregas, so it doesn’t matter,” – and Liverpool Sale will get edgier and cut the price.

Of course I don’t have an inside story on what is happening between Arsenal and Barca-loan over Cesc, and I must admit when it came to the sale of Henry I called that wrong (although I did get Vieira right several weeks before the announcement – but it was a total guess).  I didn’t see Overmars going for £25m, but I did think Anelka might go (but I got the fee utterly wrong).

So I have a 50/50 track record on predicting the big Wengerian sales.  Like Vieira, Henry, Overmars, Anelka he will go at some time, and if he follows the same form as those transfers, his career will not flourish thereafter either through injury or loss of form.  Personally I think he will stay until Ramsey or someone else comes along who can fill the gap – but what I think is neither here nor there.

What is here and there is that the key thing for the President of Barca-loan is to make the right noises to the fans, and to detract from the possible deals at Liverpool.  In this regard Cesc is just a plaything.

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Want to comment?  If you are not fully familiar with this site, you might find it helpful to read a few other articles first.   There are some notes about the site and our conversations posted somewhere around here.

17 comments to The Great Cesc Fàbregas Transfer Saga: what’s really going on

  • Richard B

    It’s also the case that Barcaloan need to raise money via the sale of Yaya Toure and that Arsenal (at least for the moment) either don’t value him at anything like the £25m that Man City might be willing to pay – or they don’t want him at all.
    That means that Barcaloan do not have an asset to swap with Wenger and it all comes down to cash which Arsenal will use to fund the purchase of 2 or three defenders (and still be left with a profit).
    I agree totally with the view that Fabregas will be released when there is seen to be a replacement in place and that that player may already be at the Club (Ramsey, Lansbury both spring to mind with Nasri and a fit Rosicky filling in the meantime).
    Funnilty enough the arrival of Chamakh, even though he isn’t a direct replacement, frees up both RVP and Bendtner to play out wide more often and that means both Rosicky and Nasri will equally be more available to play in central midfield.
    I do not see a place for Joe Cole and Wengers ‘announcement’ that’s it’s all about strengthening the defence could, from now on be totally accurate. But Fabregas will go quite soon – almost certainly this summer.

  • shotta-gunna

    A believable scenario. Factor in that the media is pushing Keegan as a Rafa’s successor suggests the powers-that-be are going the bread and circus route. Sell the players and give the supporters a Kevin Keegan distraction. Interesting days ahead.

  • kenyan gal

    It wont surprise me one bit if Fabregas is still with us in 2015 (if Wenger is still around by then). Pep Gardiola extended his stay at Barca-loan for one season – till 2012. If he leaves then Cesc might not go to Barca-loan at all.
    Tony I think you left out Cesc’s Mr 20% scenario – his mortgage and school fees are overdue – he might be facing a foreclosure so he’s pushing for a quick sale.

  • donkey

    good article in parts but many floors in thier too,like
    fabrigas wants to leave arsenal for barca(though i still say where will he play if he joins them? he can’t get in the spain team for wc today if inesta (excuse spelling)plays as you say barca don’t need him)
    in response to richard b, arsenal don’t need the money for fabrigas to strengthen the squad ,arsenal as history will show you rarley pay out big transfer fees, we have vermaalean djourou
    and song as well as bartley(if he stays)and i believe sagna can play cd,so wenger will buy one maybe two defenders nethier will cost more then 10million euros,
    well maybe 10.5 million euros, and arsenal still have cash in the region of 30 to 40 million euros to spend on players,so as you can see we don’t need to sell to bring in money for squad building thanks for reading this have a good day up the gunners

  • AaronGSi

    I liked the article and I think Tony’s point about football clubs using decoys and false rumours to detract from their actual transfer targets is probably very accurate generally. However, I do think that Barca are genuinely after Cesc, and not merely using him as a distraction to try and snare Torres down the line. I also believe more and more that Cesc will definitely leave this summer and that a deal is actually very close. His silence has spoken a thousand words this summer, considering his past record of speaking out against transfer stories, whether he is at the WC or not makes no difference to a few sentences he could speak to confirm he is staying with us. It wouldn’t surprise me if Yaya was part of the deal, but that there are still issues regarding what he is worth as the makeweight in the deal (my thoughts are Barca have offered £29m + Yaya who they value at around £25m, but Arsenal want £40m + Yaya at £15m makeweight). It would make sense as to why Man City are very quiet on the Yaya front despite being the media’s favourites to sign him – its not like Man City to hold back when looking at deals as we remember with the Kaka affair. It also seems they have more interest in Dani Alves anyway. And my view on Chelski is that they need home grown players more than anything but also that roman will want a top striker first if they are splashing his cash again.
    I do hope my own take is utterly wrong though and that Cesc will stay, as he really is the heartbeat of Arsenal. But I also hope all this speculation ends soon and we can move forward one way or another.
    As for Liverpool, they are definitely on a big downer and will sell quite a few players this summer. Will be interesting to see exactly what happens at Anfield over the next couple of months for sure

  • Marcus

    One of the accusations of Gooners is that we are paranoid.It is mighty strange that

    1) Nasri
    2) Walcott
    and
    3) Song

    have been snubbed by their international managers to some degree or another.

    I genuinely believe that there is something aboth Arsenal that the powers that be, be they Bilderburgers, Masons or whatever, simply do not like.

    It is extremely odd that the player Caponello previously lauded as the exemplary “player without fear”, was then turned into the scapegoat.

    Watching Ribery and Gourcouuff’s limp antics, Gour-who? , it is hard to see the rationale for leaving Nasri out of the French side….

    and as for benching A.Song, well……. nul points and no comment.

    I really do believe there is an agenda against Arsenal…..

    WHAT ABOUT the 20 penalties we didn’t get last season?

    ————————————————————–

    In all of this I think Fabregas is something of a pawn.

    I think

    1) Barca definitely want him – he can play off Villa initially, and then slot into midfield when Xavi is past his sell by date, (probably in about 6 months…lol)

    Possibly:

    2) Fabregas is probably rather concerned about having his career truncated by some lousy oaf.

    3) Fabregas has mooted/hinted at a move to give Wenger leverage for buying reinforcements. It may even be a collusion between AW and CF. (Whatever is said publicly: Wenger has not had the funds previously)

    To my mind, it is almost as if CF is putting the ball in the Arsenal directors’ court……

    “Do you guys really intend to create a top top side, or are you happy with less than excellent side?” Is the question he is putting to them.

  • Suki

    Another well thought out article. A club that won’t pay over 30 million for Cesc won’t cough up 70 million for Torres

  • The gross under valuing of Cesc, and the mighty over valuing of Torres is a sign that maybe they are really after Torres, and are looking to pay around £45m for him. “Look,” they will say, “Cesc is only worth £35m so offering you £45m for Torres is quite a deal. Take it or leave it – if you leave it we go back for Cesc.”

  • Lanz

    IMO, it would be a real shame if Barca-loana does this to Cesc. That’s shooting him 2ce in 7 years! I feel the new Barca-loana president doesn’t truly want him. Fully aware that the negotiations have not gone far, he says, “We’ll see,…if the negotiations are advanced…”. I suspect too that Mr. Wenger asked Cesc during their discussion how much he thinks he is worth. The figure pronounced by Cesc in that most important discussion is what Mr. Wenger now holds unto, smiling to himslf!

  • Marcus

    Another extremely strange non-selection.

    No Cesc for Spain.

    Given that he is their stand-out player, this is bizarre.

    But given that Del Bosque also left the other Spanish star, Senna, out of the squad, I would have to put this one down to incompetence.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Marcus

    As far as dropping Song went, if you look at where Eto’o, their biggest star by far was played (out wide right), you’d say that the Cameroon manager either got it wrong or was told to get it wrong. It was laughable.

    Fabregas didn’t get on either and you’d say that that was a surprise too, as Spain had no penetration at all in the final third.

    So you could say that the teams who didn’t back their Arsenal players didn’t do well in the first round of matches, did they?

    As for the article, it’s not just the print media saying this about Fabregas. Lee Dixon said on BBC today that he was 100% certain that Fabregas would be sold to Barcelona this summer.

    This may of course be part of a fiendish plot to unsettle the Spanish side in the World Cup, but as Fabregas didn’t play, it can hardly be the excuse for their performance today. Hitzfeld clearly came to the same conclusion as Mourinho at Inter and, using far worse players, fashioned a well-earned win.

  • Marcus

    Rhys,

    Unless Fabregas was injured still, not playing him was totally bizarre. He is quite simply the best player in that squad.

    Del Bosque has reaped his reward. He sounds like an asshole anyhow.

    Switzerland played very well. And their tactics were shrewd. they left 2 players up front, which meant the ball came out wide, which stifles the creativity of players like Xavi.

    Possession is double sided sword…

    1)It denies the opposition the ball, meaning they are nullified, (and it tires them chasing it)

    2) It allows you to create attacks

    Spain forgot the second half of the equation today.
    They were a bit insipid, and Switzerland got their just reward. They were committed, dynamic, and Inler played superbly. Their defence was rock-like.

  • Gooner Gal

    @Marcus – totally agree, Spain also seemed to lack spirit in the last 15mins. Its like they gave up and Switzerland became more confident in attack, which shows they sensed this too because I would of thought that they would of become even more defensive. Spain seemed weighed down by the weight of expectation.

    Chile on the other hand were great today, I can’t wait for Spain Vs Chile.

    If Tony’s right about Liverpool maybe we could bid for Reina again £5m sounds about right under the circumstances. I don’t think Wenger wants to sell Cesc until he has Ramsey back, but surely has considered a plan B by now.

    I didn’nt think Gourcuff was that good either during France match – Diaby showed how good he can be. I will be much more critical of him if he doesn’t play like that for us more often.

    Richard B’s suggestions sound reasonable to me.

    I don’t really want Yaya at Arsenal, sounds like we would be his fourth choice club if it happens, so not sure we will get the best out of him. Not to mention his Mr20% will probably want him to move in a couple years to Italy.

  • Gf60

    Hopefully Cesc saw the light and the thoughts of bench warming will keep him where he’s wanted.
    I hear the Swiss gnomes put the cuckoo clocks on double “cuck” time to celebrate.

  • Simon

    Barca’s offer was made before their Presidential election; this is normal electioneering ‘vote for me and I will buy these great stars for Barca’!

    Well the incumbent lost and since then silence, I suspect that will be the last we hear, Barca owe Arsenal money from the Hleb and TH14 transfers and have no players we want to trade, we don’t do cast offs! add in Cesc’s new long term contract, his respect for Arsene and Arsenal and the fact that we sure don’t need the money then I am confident we can keep our Young Catalan Captain…

    I see 2 defenders and a new keeper to add to Maroune Chamakh as well as the usual young prospects and that will give us a very strong competitive squad which will win something and I predict the Premiership, oh yes!

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Like Vieira, Henry, Overmars, Anelka he [Cesc] will go at some time, and if he follows the same form as those transfers, his career will not flourish thereafter either through injury or loss of form.

    Is this really true of Henry? He had an amazing partnership with his fellow Barça forwards, Messi & Eto’o, when they scored almost 100 goals together in the HexaCampeon season. He added La Liga titles to his EPL haul, plus the elusive European Cup that he should have won first with Arsenal in 2006.

    I would say the opposite is true, and that in face Henry had a late flourish at Barça, and that now age has finally caught up with him, he is likely to bow out gracefully.

  • Gf60

    I see Joan Laprat is still going on today…”Arsenal will give in and sell Cesc.” Why on earth can the gooners not lay a charge for illegal tapping? Announce an offer of 30 mill for Messi? If it’s true as told, tell the world that Barca haven’t finished paying for Henry and Hleb? Any bloody thing.