Why Arsenal should keep Fabregas for one more year

Today’s stories of ‘Arsenal likely to sell Fabregas to Barcelona’ are founded on this cute little exchange between Dan Roan (BBC) and his Arsenal source:

When asked about Barcelona’s transfer offer for Cesc Fabregas, the senior Arsenal official said:

“The offer was made formally in writing to our chief executive (Ivan Gazidis), and we said no straight away.”

Asked if the club expected another bid, the source said: “Possibly. If it’s enough I expect we’ll have to sell.”

On the surface that sounds like a no-brainer – if the fee is enough, i.e. if the transfer fee meets Arsenal’s valuation of the player, then they will consider the offer. You don’t put a price on something without considering that you would agree to sell it at that price, and Arsenal’s valuation of Fabregas would therefore be high enough to offset the loss of their captain (while keeping in mind that they would also save on wages and be able to bring in 2-4 quality players). It doesn’t matter if Fabregas wants to go, it only matters how high Arsenal value Fabregas, and whether it’s beneficial for them to sell him now or later (assuming they will one day sell him).

But the question isn’t whether Arsenal are ready to sell Fabregas but whether they have the kind of replacements lined up that would make this summer’s transfer business an upgrade on their current situation. The best thing that can happen for Arsenal is to have Fabregas well rested this summer, return to play a full season for them before going on to play in Euro 2012, and then transfer to Barcelona. Given that he is likely to be involved in international football for three consecutive summers (2012 – Euros, 2013 – Confederations Cup, 2014 – World Cup), this is the only season that he will have in the next four years that will be after a well-rested summer.

The value of Fabregas for Arsenal has not dropped. A well-rested, injury-free Fabregas surrounded by good and experienced players will make for a stronger Arsenal title challenge in 2011/2012 than a Fabregas-less Arsenal with no real leader on the pitch (unless you’re making Vermaelen or Nasri or RVP the captain, and in each case the burden is too great to bear for the player).

More than any other season, Arsenal need to keep Fabregas this summer – simply because it might be the best season he could deliver before he embarks on 3 more years of non-stop football.

It might even serve Arsenal to agree a straight-cash deal with Barcelona for 2012 in advance, similar to what United did with Madrid for Ronaldo.

In any case, Fabregas is likely to come back this season to Arsenal in better shape than he has been in for a few years. Might as well make the best use of him before cashing in.

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