Why Cesc won’t go now, but why he might, maybe, perhaps, possibly, could go in August

By Toby Maitland

I’ve been an Arsenal fan since the mid-1970s: a season-ticket holder in the late eighties, now living in the US and follow The Arsenal on the telly and the web.

I was hoping that you would post something the Untold Arsenal blog that relates to the Cesc Situation. Much has already been written, and everyone has an opinion, and here is my opinion, which I don’t think I’ve seen expressed by anyone else.

I’ll give you guys full license to wordsmith / pen an article based on the following thoughts. I’d post it myself, but the debate that follows your articles is more extensive than if I were to simply post this as a response to an existing article.

To wit, here are my thoughts:

1) Nobody is bigger than the shirt that they wear. Players come and go, but the club lives on (as long as it is run with some measure of fiduciary responsibility!).

2) Players have to be regarded in light of that philosophy. Kennedy, Brady, Stapleton, Rocastle, Wright, Henry, Vieira: we’ve seen all these players leave when once the thought was unfathomable, and yet the Club lives on.

3) Players contribute to the Club both on the field and off the field. On the field, in terms of honours won, and off the field in terms of contribution to the Club’s Balance Sheet. If they can’t contribute on the field (titles), then they can contribute off the field (financially through a transfer). If they can contribute neither on the field nor off the field, then they should be gone. But at the end of the day, the Board has to gauge the measure of player’s contribution on the field against what he can contribute off the field through a transfer, and make the best decision.

4) In that context, no single player is immune from transfer speculation, regardless of how much they can contribute on the field.

Which brings us to Cesc Fàbregas and my thoughts about how intelligently Arsène Wenger is handling the relationship with Barcelona.

First the Facts:

Fact #1: Arsenal  has issued a statement saying that Cesc is not for sale at any price.

Fact #2: It is well publicized that Arsenal will be seeking out a number of new players this off-season: a defender or two, a goalkeeper, and maybe somebody else too.

Now the Logic:

If you want to go buy a new car, you hardly walk into the dealer with a briefcase full of cash and say, “I’ll take that one, how much will it cost me?” Instead, you present a picture to the car salesman of the maximum you can afford to drive the price of the new car down. It’s called leverage.

If Arsenal sold Cesc before they’d finished their other transfer projects, they would have a briefcase full of cash and everyone would know exactly how much Arsenal could afford to pay for their transfer targets. Arsenal would lose leverage.

Instead, I believe that Arsène is going to finish his transfer purchases first, and then sit down with Cesc again, with the conversation going something like the following: “Cesc, son, look here: we’ve just purchased four new players for 30 million quid that you and I know will all strengthen the team. This gives us a real chance of winning something. Go to Barcelona if you like, but we’d love to have you stick around.”

If he still wants to go, then negotiations with Barcelona will begin again. If Barcelona ups their offer to 40 million quid, then Arsenal would have just financed 3-4 new plays, plus pocketed another 10 million, and probably without breaking their wage structure.

If Arsenal sell Fàbregas before they’ve concluded their other transfer dealings, then (a) they won’t have any leverage at all and the 30 million they would have otherwise spent would probably end up closer to 50 million; and (b) they will be known as a selling club, and who wants to join a selling club?

But if Arsenal sell Fàbregas after they’ve concluded their other transfer dealings, then (a) they’ve been able to buy their target players without tipping their hand to the sellers, thus preventing The Arsenal from paying too much; and (b) from Fàbregas’ perspective, he’ll be able to see the proof in Arsenal’s commitment to succeed, and make a decision about whether to stay or go.

Bottom line, it wouldn’t surprise me if Fàbregas goes in late July / early August. Would I be disappointed? Absolutely. Would I be devastated? Absolutely not. The Club lives on, players come and go. If Fàbregas sees out his career with the Arsenal, he would have given us plenty of wonderful memories, regardless of whether we win anything (remember the goal against Tottenham?), although we probably will win lots. If Fàbregas goes this summer, then he will leave a financial legacy that will give us plenty to look forward to.

Don’t be surprised if Cesc leaves for all the reasons cited above. Be disappointed, but recognize that there is plenty, plenty to look forward to.

Cheers, Tony & Walter. Keep up the good work and here’s to a happy and injury-free WC!!

If you want to make a comment for the first time read this

Looking back at our past (that’s Woolwich Arsenal, not last year)

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Editor’s note: Despite the invite to do so, we didn’t change the article.  We just wrote a headline.  (Bloody sub-editors)

30 Replies to “Why Cesc won’t go now, but why he might, maybe, perhaps, possibly, could go in August”

  1. Very good points Toby, but I do not believe that Cesc will go anywhere this season unless a ‘Ronaldo’esque bid is made.

  2. Cesc is going nowhere. No transfer fee would be enough to cover the externalities of a Cesc sale. The commercials simply dont work, particularly the issue of the fans being made fools for having held faith in the youth project.

    Plus a player leaving a 5 year contract months after signing is not good precedent. If context watch the Gazidis interviews on Arsenal.com. He said the club have been overpaying young players for 5 years now and fully expect a return. That return is NOT a sale, but a trophy.

  3. also… beware the angle being currently peddled in media that some sort of deal has been struck so Cesc will stay ONE season. NONSENSE. BBC hotsp*r and Sly Sports want to be able to question Cesc’s position at Arsenal for the duration of next summer. They want this story to run and run.

    The bottom line is this. Arsenal worked very hard to build the Emirates to reach a point where we had the financial muscle to brush these sorts of offers. We cannot continue to expect the faith of our support if we compromise that work.

    To cover the commercial costs as well as the costs related to the damage the brand would sustain from selling Cesc Arsenal FC need to generate something north of £85m to make it work. When you consider that Barce still owe us money for both Hleb and Henry I can’t see how this works for any of the parties involved.

  4. Great points. I’ve been thinking of the Zidane example recently. Juventus sold him to finance 3-4 players that cemented them as top of the league for a long stretch. That is what we will have to do if Cesc leaves. Gourcuff as a replacement and a very solid D and we should be good.

  5. There are very few players that I have seen leave Arsenal that I wished they hadnt. In fact Michael Thomas and Brady are the only ones I can think off.
    This is more to do with sentimentalism then anything else.

    30 odd years ago I made the wise choice to support Arsenal after seeing Brady, Sunderland et al. In this time hundreds have come and gone but few resonate the way that Bergkamp, Brady or Adams still do.

    While I think Fab is a fantastic player he is just another player. I support Arsenal, the present team, the present manager. When they have gone whoever they are it doesnt matter I support the team.

    Players come and players go but Arsenal Abides!

  6. You do have a point. We Bought Vermaelen before selling anyone didn’t we. I can see ONE player being signed before selling Cesc, but I seriously can’t see the club buying FOUR players before selling our Captain. Laurent Koscielny hasn’t been snapped up like Vermaelen was, has he?

    I loved seeing Brady and Stapleton getting a mention and it does highlight your point perfectly about “Nobody is bigger than the shirt that they wear” (However, it didn’t make sense to allow Frank to join Man Utd our rivals – at least Chippy went abroad).

  7. Great article. I’ve never considered these factors. Even once we have finished are transfer business I still can’t see Wenger selling his gem for less than 50 mil. Consequently, I cannot see the Catalans forking out this sum of money.

    Preferred starting 11: (Not saying this will happen btw)


    Sagna Hangeland Vermaelen Clichy


    Fabregas Gourcuff

    Nasri Van Persie Ar5havin

    Bench: Almunia Eboue Gibbs Campbell Diaby Chamakh Walcott

  8. There’s certainly a difference between being a fan and being a shareholder / director. Which I guess is why we prefer being fans – 8O) – as a shareholder / director, decisions have to be made ignoring the emotional side of things.

    The recent reports by the press of Fabregas being pursued by Real Madrid seem to me to driven by carefully-worded ‘leaks’ from inside the Marble Halls (are there any at the Emirates?) to either (a) drive leverage in transfer negotiations with Barcelona, or (b) remind Fabregas of what the Club’s options are in these dealings, and in light of that, staying for another year or more isn’t such a bad option!

  9. I cannot see how you sign a player(s) who thinks he is signing for an arsenal side that includes cesc only to find out that he is off one month into their contract. does not make for a happy squad, espesially if there is more than one signing. I do like this article though, food for thought. P.S. i was under the impression wenger would only allow the out of contract players to leave.

  10. just one fault to the argument in the article, if we wait till august to sell Cesc, when then do we get a chance to sign a replacement for him, January?, league could be gone by then

  11. The reasoning is spot on Toby. If Arsenal sign the ‘right’ players- I think Fab would give it another year- and then who knows?

  12. Very good write-up,but do AW really have access to some of these ideas?

  13. Nah…. Think you got this one wrong. He’s not going unless there is a new Uefa directive. It’s too damaging for AW & the club to loose face this way. Even if it means Fab playing for the reserves. Then if we win something next year…Very interesting!

  14. that’s the most sensible article i’ve read since the transfer window opened. sounds very plausible in terms of wenger’s mentality. all except for the part about spending £30 mil… we can only live and hope but i fear we will in fact spend nearer 10 (schwarzer 3/ koszcielny 8) plus free transfers. (chamakh/ cole?).

    if i were cesc i’m not sure those 4 would impress me much. but the leverage point/ time frame seems sound reasoning.

  15. What annoys me most is the all the articles the other day ranting and raving yes on this site along with other we told them look at the offical statement “Cesc is not going anywhere” he more than likely will be sold and hopefuly your opinion is correct he will see the strengthening and stay one more year.

    The other thing thats annoying with this though is well the players that are been mentioned in connection with us are more established players.
    So does this mean well I confess the youth system is not working in the way AW had predicted in terms of not enough talent comes through each year to make it a success ?
    Cesc leaving would suggest its just a conveyor belt put all the hard work in make them house hold names and watch them leave for one reason or another afterwards.

    I think we should stick to our guns if we get in the joe coles and others mentioned make cesc stay a year and see if we can win something with a stronger squad we would still be able to command a decent transfer fee for cesc next season should he still want to return home.

    If we let him go now its nothing short of been a frikken stupid management decision.

  16. 4 players??? actually spending money??? i appreciate your optimism but cant see it happening,im preparing myself for a 6th year of mediocre transfer activity and no ambition. doesnt mean i dont love the guns.

  17. What a refreshing article.Agree with your points about Cesc’s transfer but it will be devastating as well. He is a special special player.
    I am still not as optimist as any of the writers on this blog but I still respect and admire them for their sincere optimism. Thanks.

  18. I think at this point in the Wenger management strategy and process the focus is way beyond the scraping to get by and is now maneuvering in ways so this football team can win. The question of whether or not Cesc stays or goes has more to do with winning or losing than economics. Leverage is not needed for a team who has many “new cars” that just need time to warm up. As for Cesc he is our Bentley that is so good at such a young age that when 2015 comes every team in the world will spend double than CR was purchased for last year. The leverage you speak of is for a team which is desperate.

    This organization is at the start of something new and incredibly golden. Cesc is at the center of it and it would be foolish to think we make a few quid as you say rather than stay the course.

  19. Thats one way of lookin at it. And probably it might come true. But the problem comes when we try to find a replacement. We all know how good fabregas is in the midfield. And when he had joined us, it took him almost 3-4 years to reach this present level. The players which have been targeted for his replacement are not to his level and are mostly from different leagues. Which means even if they come to arsenal, it will take atleast 2years to learn to manage the epl, which i think is the toughest and most demanding league in the world. Thats why I’d immediately buy his replacement now and give the new guy the required experience and sell fabregas after 2 years. I’m sure that Arsenal can still get £40 million after 2 years for fabregas. Because by then, Xavi wud be old for barca and fabregas wud be in his prime. And he’ll still have 3 years left in his contract and that will still keep his value. We know that our club is more important than any other player. Thats why we shud do not bend in front of barca and keep fabregas. What fabregas wants is not what arsenal should be concerned of. If we start off-loading players then next season it wud be arshavin or even van-persie. We should do what is required for the club and not what a player wants.

  20. Well done Toby and i agree with you. Player come and go, just like a girlfriend. Dump the old one and get the new refresh one..=)

  21. what u dont understand is HE is not for sale. its as simple as that. until AFC tell me otherwise then he ain’t goin no where. Surprisingly even barca admitted is not for sale.

  22. He’s not going, Arsenal FC have stated this, anything coming from the Barcelona camp is nonsense as we have seen so far, it is all to do with their presidential election, empty promises to the fans. If Cesc goes whilst under contract with Arsenal, we have a case to report Barca for about 3 years worth of tapping up!

    They obviously have not taken long to disregard Arsenals statement in response to the matter “We Hope Barcelona Respect our stance on this matter”. How do they get away with it???!!!

    It also doesnt help when Papers keep re-hashing quotes from last season, for example, Yesterday ive seen the Xavi quote used for the 3rd time in a month about the “Barcelona DNA”
    Since when did players have any right to influence transfers aswell??

  23. Geezer, I thought it was in the rules that any representant of a club can be guilty of tapping up a player. This goes for presidents, coaches AND PLAYERS. It goes for everyone who works for the Barcatapa club in this case. But to prove it is the most difficult thing.

  24. If this is dragged the whole summer and we end selling him late in Aug, I would suggest this leaves us in a weaker position because:

    1- there is less time to find a replacement

    2- we would have a fair sum at our disposal, and looking for a player when other teams know you have money and not much time on your hands, is a not a good negotiating position to be in

    or maybe we won’t replace him after all and will play arshavin behind rvp/chamakh with song/diaby/denilson as a midf 3?

  25. Decent points, but what you have to understand is that Fab has just displayed his best season at Arsenal thus far. Part of that can be contributed to Song’s emergence as a stellar holding player allowing Fab to work his magic. But mostly Cesc is growing into a world class player before our eyes. Yes he has always been very good, but there is a difference in very good and one of the best. He began to command games, dominate them even where in past seasons he was still a little green in that area. And the best is yet to come.
    I only make these points bc I believe that if we were to sell Cesc this offseason we will not be selling him at his highest value and best return for our club. Couple that with the fact that while you may be able to finance 3 or 4 players with his sale, we do not have the players on the field as of yet that can even remotely fill his shoes.
    We all know Cesc will be in a Barca jersey before it’s all said and done, but if we can somehow keep him one or two more seasons and allow a player like Ramsey to develop, we will get more money for him then and have a valid replacement waiting to take the torch.
    I’m more in the camp of sell high and buy low, and the development of our youth system will pay off, but we have to keep the most senior players around to allow those players to develop and grow in a winning club, i.e. champ league football, fighting for the league, etc.
    Bottom line is Fab is too integral to the club right now given the current cast, and due to the timing he happens to be bigger than the club at this particular time, and we must do all we can to keep him.

  26. When it comes to Cesc all the speculation in the world wont change anything- No one wants Cesc to stay at Arsenal more than Arsene- and if he sells him- it is because Cesc’s head has gone. If Arsenal were offered 100m they would not sell unless Cesc really wanted to go. Anyone that has spent time with the Catalans will know what nationalistic pressures Cesc has been subject to recently.
    Yes Barcelona FC are pathetically transparent and disingenuous- they could easily shut their captain up if they wanted to. Trouble is this is part of a pattern-but we would be fooling ourselves if we thought it was all one sided and players were not involved in promoting transfer speculation.
    One thing I would like to see is a captain with a real commitment to Arsenal FC- and I mean real that is his ambition is not to play for another club.

  27. Sorry – this IP address is being used for multiple postings of a very similar type in different names and so has been blocked.

  28. I hope Cesc doesn’t leave this summer, as the squad is looking very good for next year, in fact a mouth-watering prospect in comparison to the other big clubs having a clear-out to meet new home-grown/age rules. I hope he’s merely being tactical and trying to gee Wenger up to make new signings (if RVP hadn’t been injured, I do believe we would have won the league last season.)

    However, I do wonder if Cesc will eventually use Fifa Article 17 to buy himself out of his Arsenal contract before 2015? Taking on board the club’s statement, it is very clear that we have no intention of selling him, I would say EVER, but would he wait to go on a free in 2015?

    According to this Independent piece from 2007, there’s a “protected period” when the player can’t use Article 17:

    The rule which could help them is Article 17 of Fifa’s transfer regulations, under which players can unilaterally cancel their contracts after a “protected period” expires, if they pay “buyout” compensation to their clubs, based on wages.

    The three-year protection period on Lampard’s current five-year deal runs out this summer, so he could theoretically leave then for around £8m, two years’ wages. The protection period on Gerrard’s four-year deal expires in summer next year, when he could leave for one year’s wages, or around £5m.

    -how long is this “protected period” for Cesc?
    -which big names have used Article 17 to date?
    -is it possible Cesc will use it?

    Personally, I hope he doesn’t, as I love the guy (those goals against Villa!), and if things go to plan next season, with any luck Cesc will get all the domestic and European silverware he desires while stil with Arsenal (to add to his upcoming World Cup medal!).

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