Gerard Pique is the latest employee to arrogantly assert that ‘Cesc Fabregas will definitely join Barcelona. He’s at least had the grace to mention that it might not occur this summer, but in that, he is different from nearly every other person affiliated with the club who has spoken on the issue, be they the current President Joan Laporta, or Xavi, who recently claimed Barca was in Fabregas’ ‘DNA.’
Arsene Wenger has mentioned several times this season that the club have written not one, but two letters to Barcelona asking them to keep the issue quiet, largely because it’s destabilising for a club to suffer constant conjecture about one of their star players amidst – very often – spurious claims that a deal has been struck. It’s also extremely uncouth for a large club to behave in such a way.
Of course, Barcelona are not the only club guilty of such manoeuvring. What’s saddening about the logorrhoea regarding ‘Cesc Fabregas, is that they usually conduct themselves with the utmost decorum and diplomacy, but have now been reduced to a snarling, covetous coyote more in keeping with Real Madrid’s traditional behaviour in the transfer market – replete with a sense of entitlement that makes Prince Charles look like the Dalai Lama. Manchester United were similarly vulgar in their pursuit of Owen Hargreaves from Bayern Munich, although perhaps not with quite the same level of righteousness.
We all know that the chimerical nature of Spanish presidential elections often means, for Madrid and Barcelona anyway, that the clubs in question are promised star players in return for power. It happened with Luis Figo in 2000, it happened with David Beckham in 2003, and it happened with Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009. It’s now happening with Fabregas – as both Sandro Rosell and Alfons Godall will be desperate to promise his signature in the election race for President this summer.
In reality, aside from the likelihood of any contact made to the player behind the clubs back, as was the case with Ronaldo, publically harassing a player in this manner is essentially another form of tapping up; yet one so ubiquitous and blatant, that there is nothing that can be done about it.
Transfer rumours are here to stay because for newspapers, well, they sell. This is not a surprise if you break it down into what it often is: utopian fantasising. In the same way adverts work by presenting the viewer/listener with an opportunity to visualise an ideal lifestyle, the transfer rumour mill works by presenting fans with the tantalising prospect of some Brazilian youngster leading their forward line; it’s a basic function of capitalism with the only difference being that the product is – more often than not – the message itself.
All of this is fine and for most fans, especially in the summer, an enjoyable aspect of football. But it’s different when the rumours have a negative effect on your team and serve to destabilise not just the subject of the speculation, but his teammates as well. Arsene Wenger must struggle to contain his emotion amongst the maelstrom of daily speculation.
In the very least, Barcelona should respect ‘Cesc Fabregas and what he is trying to achieve at his current club by shutting their mouths and letting him and his team get on with it. He can’t be pleased at all the rumours even if he actually is planning to return this year or next. It undermines his position at the club and more importantly, as captain.
Ultimately it serves to render Barcelona wholly unattractive and sully a name that is as good as any in football. They are quite happy to polarise opinion and juxtapose themselves as the moral custodian of all the sacred principles of football next to the barbaric behemoth that is Real Madrid, but this whole saga just goes to show that when they really want something, they are quite happy to drop down to Madrid’s level.
In any case, Florentino Perez is lurking with intent should Barca fail, and that really would be a coup for a man who has made his reputation pulling off the unthinkable, especially given the bombast nature of Barcelona’s pursuit.
Let’s hope ‘Cesc Fabregas is mature enough to realise that should he leave Arsenal without winning anything, then one day, if not immediately, he will be filled with a deep sense of regret at not having achieved with the club who made his name, and moreover, the manager who moulded him. Cristiano Ronaldo left only when he had achieved all that he could with Manchester United, but you get the sense that if Barcelona keep this up, they will harm Fabregas’ chances of doing so with Arsenal.