Following on from yesterday’s article looking at Barcelona’s hypocrisy, it’s worth looking at Arsene Wenger’s reply to comments made by Barcelona’s ex-president Joan Laporta and current VP Javier Faus about Cesc Fabregas.
While Faus was only talking about how much money they have available for transfers, Laporta went a step further, talking about a sense of ‘entitlement’ with Fabregas – “It’s an issue of justice, we now want to recover them,” he said.
He also said: “The English come here to do fishing. They came to fish for Gerard Piqué [the former Manchester United defender who has since returned to Barcelona] and Cesc.”
Wenger’s reply is spot on:
“It’s part of the game. Where do they get their players? Where does [Lionel] Messi come from? Barcelona? [Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina] At what age did they take him? Twelve years old. There’s no reason for any bitterness because we did nothing illegal. Everything was legal. We did not force a gun somewhere. We respected the rules. They could come and take our players, we accept that as well.
They take their players from all over the world. Don’t expect them only to get players from Catalonia.”
He was far more gracious of Barcelona on the pitch though (a far throw away from the aftermath of the 2006 Champions League final):
“Barcelona are certainly the best team in the world at the moment. They’re the best club team I’ve ever faced. And any club team at the top level is better than every national team. I would not deny this Barcelona are one of the best teams ever but my team wants to show we can beat them. I believe personally that we can do it. Barcelona are certainly the team to beat if you want to be the best. If we knock Barcelona out, we straightaway have a good chance to win the tournament. It is until now the toughest test for us in the European Cup.”
This ‘he belongs to Barcelona’ story is just a front for what’s really going on – Fabregas looking at a club winning titles every year and wondering if he should go, and Barcelona looking to their future and seeing Fabregas as an ideal part of their central midfield. Barcelona know that if they play the emotional card, they won’t cop as much flak in the press when they go on and on about why ‘Fabregas should come home’.
The good thing is, like Wenger or not, he’s talked sense into Fabregas about what’s really going on and what Barcelona (and especially the top brass) are using him for – a PR tactic. In some ways, Barcelona are better off portraying themselves as the ‘victim’ and perpetually chasing Fabregas than actually putting up the cash and signing the player, thus putting an end to a positive PR story and having to deal with a) spending a lot of money that they can’t really afford for a player they don’t really need and b) enduring comparisons with Real Madrid for poaching top players from other clubs (which they’ve been doing in any case).
Barcelona don’t want Fabregas (yet). Barcelona don’t need Fabregas (yet). Barcelona just need the idea that ‘Fabregas is theirs’, because it helps them look good, and it helps maitain the illusion of Barcelona as victims. Guardiola and Xavi and Messi may want him back for entirely selfish reasons, but they aren’t the ones pulling the strings, nor are they the ones calling the shots. Pique was cheap (and easy). Fabregas has been more difficult to prise away, but you wonder if Barcelona really want him back, or just like to mess around, like that ex-girlfriend who’s just jealous you’re trying to move on with your life.
A very hot ex-girlfriend, mind you.
Also See: Arsenal v Barcelona Champions League Preview.