How does the saying go? Never go back..? I never went back to an ex-girlfriend, but I did go back to an old employer once, and as Seinfeld’s inimitable George Costanza would say, I had ‘no hand.’ I’m a bit anxious about writing an Arsenal piece for Sabotage Times...following on from Sam Drew feels like it must be similar to how Chris Martin felt when he knew Gwyneth Paltrow’s last bloke was Brad Pitt...but I shall try.
Ask a capacity crowd of Gooners at The Emirates Stadium and I would say 55,000 would agree to the statement that Arsenal need a new midfielder. Yes, yes, Jack Wilshere is class. But after eighteen months on the treatment table, who knows if he’ll ever regain the form that had had him (rightfully) touted as England’s best midfield prospect since Gascoigne? Abou Diaby is also a very capable, domineering player...but sadly, as Auxerre’s legendary chief Guy Roux stated in the past, “He is mounted on two matches with a spot of gluein the middle.” His fitness (or lack of) is legend. Indeed, he is slated as being out against Southampton this Saturday (3pm kick off, retro...). Mikel Arteta has excelled so far in a deep-lying role, sitting behind Diaby, the dynamic, irrepressible, Alex Chamberlain, and this season’s best buy, Santi Cazorla - so these factors have probably quelled any ‘spend some f**king money!’ chants being directed to the bench and the board so far this season. With Wales' captain Aaron Ramsey in contention, plus Francis Coquelin’s undoubted potential, Arsenal, on paper, look fairly well equipped in the centre of the park. And Tomas Rosicky hasn’t even been mentioned either...
But...but. Gooners have been here before. The team has seen Alex Song, a player who splits opinion like no other of late amongst Gooners; lazy in tracking back, undisciplined with tactics and the cause of much unrest behind the scenes according to ‘Le Grove’, leave for Catalunya (a not uncommon occurrence in N5), and whilst his defensive play won’t be unmissed, his ability to put a ball on a 1€ coin was remarkable of late and will be much missed. Especially if that coin happened to be on Robin van Persie’s left boot... So, many Arsenal fans really want another quality midfielder. Or, at least, I do!
Rennes’ Yann M’Vila, a mercurial deep lying midfielder capped by France, and who passes the ball in a way Song could only dream, was linked to the club, and apparently rejected for attitude problems. Toulouse’s Ettiene Capoue and Anderlecht’s Lucas Biglia were also linked this summer and apparently scouted quite intensively. So, Arsenal were probably looking for midfield re-enforcements last month. Oh, scratch that, we know they were! Nuri Sahin was a Liverpool-gazump away from wearing red and white.
But is the answer in a player who quietly (!) slipped away last summer (as I was on honeymoon in a remote internet no-man’s-land in deepest France) to the aforementioned Catalunya? Francesc Fabregas Soler. Apple of Arsene Wenger’s eye since he was picked from right under Joan Laporta’s nose in 2003, to become Arsenal’s youngest ever player, and goal-scorer, and of course to be an eventual captain, taking over from William Gallas. Poor Cesc. He is currently being kept out of the Barcelona XI by the evergreen Xavi, the remarkable Andres Iniesta and the lamentable Sergi Busquets. He has been linked to AC Milan – to go on loan to the Guiseppe Meazza in January to play first team football...and almost certainly knowing his ‘second father figure’, Arsene Wenger, would take him back in a heartbeat. Whether on loan, or with a cheeky bid, Wenger would love to take him back – in fact it is believed Arsenal have had the first choice on Fabregas’s future if F.C Barcelona sell him on written into a legal clause. This despite many claims that Fabregas went on strike in the summer of 2011 to force his move through to Camp Nou.
So, Arsenal were probably looking for midfield re-enforcements last month. Oh, scratch that, we know they were! Nuri Sahin was a Liverpool-gazump away from wearing red and white.
Could a former darling of Highbury & Islington return, just like Thierry Henry this year, to The Arsenal? Would fans, who have seen Robin van Persie, Alex Song and Samir Nasri (plus of course Fabregas) exit stage left in consecutive seasons, and are braced for Theo Walcott’s and Andrei Arshavin’s departures next year, welcome the prodigal son back to The Emirates? Or would Barcelona’s mercurial talents; the Alcantara brothers – Thiago and Rafinha, be the players that Wenger wants to add to a burgeoning Gunners youth team boasting ex-Barcelona youth’s Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin, and young German superstars-in-waiting (and soon to be unleashed in the league Cup, no doubt) Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfield, plus the Swiss starlet Martin Angha? Pep Guardiola, the main lure for Fabregas to return to Camp Nou (he was told he was a natural heir to Pep’s famous #4 shirt by the great man himself) has left...does Cesc need a proven mentor back in his career?
I guess Arsenal fans will see in January...will Arsene Wenger provide some late Christmas presents for the owners of the most expensive season tickets in the Premier League, or will he be Scrooge, and hold onto the money generated by expensive player sales that he guards like it his daughter’s inheritance?
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