Cesc is Back Home!

Today, Cesc Fabregas led the team out onto the Emirates pitch for the 2010 Annual Members’ Day. Near 10,000 club members and their children cheered the captain as he clapped them back. Cesc appears to have been in good spirits laughing and talking with his teammates throughout the session as well as putting in some jogging and light ball work. Nevertheless, no statement was forthcoming from either the player or the club. At least not officially…

Kenny Sansom told reporters:

I’ve had a chat with Arsene Wenger and he told me he’s going to stay, which is great news. It’s a good day for the club, with all the fans being here to see Cesc back here, they all look up to him and it’s great news that he’s stopping.

Also, Bob Wilson is quoted in the same article as having said:

Today is the clearest indication you can get that he will stay. If you look at the team photo for the 2010-2011 season, he is at the front of the picture.There will be an announcement soon that tells everyone that Cesc Fabregas is going to stay at the Emirates Stadium for this season, and for maybe longer.”

“I think everyone have been worried and everyone have seen that the way that Barcelona has handled things has been totally wrong. People have been comparing the possibility of Cesc going with Ronaldo going last year. Real Madrid paid £80 million for Ronaldo. They over-paid. Barcelona at this moment have offered a very paltry amount for a player who is one of the greatest players on earth.”

“I don’t think we need to tell him that everyone at the club loves him. He has a second father at the club in Arsene Wenger and I think Arsene will be able to get his head around the fact that he is an Arsenal player and not a Barcelona player. Cesc owes a lot to this club in the same way that this club is very appreciative of everything that he gives to it.

Another source at the club said a statement could be expected at “the end of this week or next.” Arseblog summed the whole Cesc situation quite nicely today in his usual succinct and direct style and I’ve written all I care to write about the shameful behavior and tactics of Barcelona. But being this late in the preseason, it appears certain that Cesc will remain with the Arsenal for the coming season. Members’ Day also witnessed the return of Robin van Persie wearing his new #10 on his warm-up kit.

There’s really nothing now to do but wait for a statement from Cesc and further developments in our search for a 4th center-back. Arseblog summed the whole Cesc situation quite nicely today in his usual succinct and direct style.

Anyone Else Want To Bitch-Slap Carlos Puyol?

First off, I apologize for the lack of pictures today but I refuse to grace my blog with pictures of scum. On to the business… I had hoped to get the whole Cesc story out of me the other day, but a new slew of utterly inane comments from Cesc’s self-appointed spokesman, Carlos Puyol, have got me uncharacteristically wound up all over again. Here they are:

After seven years of great service, I thought Arsenal could have granted him his dream move. He is having to stay at a club where he no longer wants to be. Cesc has given everything to Arsenal to try to win a trophy but they haven’t matched his expectations. I won’t say he is in a prison, as we know how privileged we are as football players. But after how clear Cesc made it that he wanted to be in Barcelona, I thought they would have granted him that.

Where to begin? Apparently, Puyol thinks Arsenal should repay Fabregas for simply playing for us by allowing him to move. As if merely being graced by his presence was a gift to the club. When Barcelona didn’t think Cesc would be a top-class player seven years ago, they put up no fight to keep him when Arsenal made him an offer. Only afterwards, when they have realized their mistake, do they want him back. Is it me or is it a bit like the father who leaves his young family only to show up on his son’s doorstep after he’s become a movie star millionaire?

“After how clear Cesc made it that he wanted to be in Barcelona?” Puyol must be reading his own quotes because I haven’t seen one quote from Cesc saying that. The only ones making it “clear” are Puyol and his teammates during a media campaign that has become nothing short of embarrassing. If Barcelona were such a great club, why would they feel the need to resort to these kinds of tactics?

“Cesc has given everything to Arsenal.” True, but Arsenal has given Cesc even more than one player can give to a club. Arsene not only gave him a chance at 16 years of age in the first team, but he let him step in for the club’s captain and leader. He then went on to build the entire team around Cesc. And, let’s be honest, Cesc is just as much to blame as anyone else for our failed title bids in 2007/08 and 2009/10. His performances fell off just like the rest of the team.

If anything, Cesc owes Arsenal far more than Arsenal owes him. At the very least, Cesc owes it to the club to see that we get what we deserve in terms of financial compensation for the time, effort, faith, and confidence the club and supporters have shown him. All four things which Barcelona didn’t show him when they had the chance.

No football player is fully-formed at 16 years old. ARSENAL made Cesc into the player he is today and now they want him back for half of what he is worth. Barca let Cesc walk away. He was not poached or stolen. They could’ve told him that they would offer him a professional contract and a place in the first-team when he would turn 17. Had they guaranteed him that, he likely would not have left in the first place. But they didn’t have faith in him.

No matter what Puyol thinks, Barca have no unalterable right to Cesc Fabregas. If it came down to it, I’d rather offer him to Madrid for £40m than sell him to Barca for £60m. The problem is not that Arsenal don’t want to let him go, Carlos. The problem is you’re as skint as your average Scouser. It’s not that Arsenal don’t want to sell, it’s that Barcelona can’t afford to buy after having bought 7 trophies with loans. Why sell a player to a team who hasn’t even finished paying for previous transfers and is up to their ears in debt? That’s just dumb business.

Arsenal, quite rightly, are simply not going to sell their most prized asset for 1/2 of his value because cunts like Puyol and Iniesta keep talking to the press. If anything, Puyol should realize that he is only making matters much worse for Cesc and his club. The level of conceit, entitlement, and downright egotism emanating from that cuntbox of a stadium is astounding.

The headline of the piece in the Mail is “You’ll pay for keeping Cesc Fabregas!” No, Carlos, YOU and all the cunts at Barca will pay.” It’s easy. Either come up with £60m or fuck off.

To My Fellow Arsenal Supporters: Don’t Fall For Their Tricks

Since Arsenal Station’s return from summer hiatus, I have tried to avoid commenting on the whole Cesc/Barca soap opera that developed both before and all through the World Cup. However, I can no longer remain silent on this farcical affair. It is clear that there is much more to Barcelona’s actions, intentions, and motivations than simply acquiring Cesc as a player, and that is what I’d like to discuss. I’d like to beg my readers’ forgiveness ahead of time for the length of this post but it has been building up all summer and I’d rather just spew it now than let it drag on and on. Anyway, here we go…

I don’t think many, except delusional Barca fans, would deny that what has been going on since June is a systematic media campaign by Barcelona involving both their front office and players. It is a media campaign that would make any P.R. firm on Madison Avenue proud. To me, it seems that Barcelona has three objectives in mind:

1) They are trying to turn Arsenal supporters against Cesc.

2) They are trying to get Cesc to hand in a transfer request and thereby get him for far less than he’s worth.

3) The new regime is trying to placate their own supporters.

Don’t let #1 happen. Don’t let the machinations of a club with no integrity or self-respect turn us against our captain, the player they more than willingly let go and whom we have been supporting unfailingly since he was 16 years old. Now, I realize that Cesc has not come out in the media to make his usual statements, or at least not for some time. One can only imagine how confusing this all must be to Cesc himself.

Like everyone else, I wish he had just stated his desire to remain at the club right off the bat. That didn’t happen. And no one can fault him for considering his options. However, his delay now appears to be the prudent thing to have done as the situation at Barcelona has become clearer in the past few weeks.

Both Barcelona’s management and players know the supporter’s attachment to Cesc and his attachment to us. It is a special relationship borne by supporting a young player and watching that support pay off as he turns into one of the world’s best players. This is evidenced by recent quotes from Iniesta. A key to getting Cesc to leave Arsenal without consideration is to destroy the relationship between the player and supporters.

On one side, there is the club and fans who have been nothing but loyal and honest with him. On the other side, is his boyhood club, to which he’d eventually like to return, whose players are constantly saying how much they want him, but the real noise from the club is that they “won’t go crazy” to sign him. And, now, to further complicate matters for Cesc, the club’s very bleak financial situation has come to light.

Back when the shirt didn't have to be forced on him.

Apparently, the Barca players want Cesc more than the club does. If I was Cesc, I would be insulted at Barcelona’s pitiful valuation of him, especially considering they spent more than that on David Villa despite having already spent even more than that to bring in Ibrahimovic the previous summer. What does all this mean?

It means they are hoping for #2. The media campaign is also aimed at getting Cesc to turn in a transfer request so the club would be forced to sell him for whatever Barcelona offers. There is no doubt that many in Spain are dumbfounded that he has not done this yet.

Luckily for us, however, Cesc seems to have stalled when it comes to this option. I imagine that Wenger told Cesc that it is one thing to move from the club, but it is another thing to leave in a manner which means the club, which turned him into the footballer he is today, is not fully compensated. It appears that Cesc wants to move but he does not want Arsenal to get shortchanged in the process.

More funnily, Barcelona claims that “Arsenal won’t negotiate.” But who can blame them? Here we have a club that has not yet finished paying for previous transfers from Arsenal and whose financial woes are all over the papers and internet. The main fact that dominates this entire campaign by Barcelona for Cesc is this:

Barcelona neither need nor are able to afford Cesc Fabregas.

That is it. That is what it comes down to. Obviously, the World Cup had given Cesc a bit of pause as he sat on the bench behind Barca’s midfield. Then, as soon as the World Cup is over, it is revealed that Barcelona lost £64m last season, are carrying a debt bigger than Arsenal, and were forced to take a loan of €155m just to pay their players and staff last month. (See Tony Atwood’s fantastic post on Barcelona, and other club’s, precarious situation).

Transfer fees are not paid up front, but over a period of time in installments, usually. With Barcelona already in the red, and them continuing to sign big-money transfers on big-money wages, their financial situation is not likely to improve any time soon without some kind of fire sale. Why wouldn’t Arsenal be wary of making a big-money transfer with a club who doesn’t look likely to be able to pay it?

Barcelona is not some footballing monolith, as they would have the world believe. It wasn’t very long ago when Barcelona had gone twice as long without a trophy as Arsenal have now. And that was when the club wasn’t in the precarious financial state they now find themselves in and which could cause them to repeat such a run. Because no matter all the talk about Barca’s youth system, they have always spent big money bringing in big players.

And all this above is only focusing on the media campaign and not the questionable legality of Barca’s behind-the-scenes tapping-up. Multiple sources have confirmed that Barcelona has contacted Cesc without Arsenal’s approval. That much is obvious. That FIFA knows something is wrong was evidenced last week when FIFA.com carried a story with quotes about Cesc from Barcelona players only to pull it from the website a few hours later when their error (complicity?) was pointed out to them.

The most disappointing part of the whole thing is that after last summer, Cesc came back as captain with a seemingly renewed sense of dedication to the club and the cause. However, quite justifiably, the disappointing tie with Barcelona and subsequent finish to the league season, likely caused a bit of reflection. Then comes the Barcelona media barrage and probably non-stop “harassment” during the World Cup only to further exacerbate the situation.

Also, don’t let the Barcelona management fool you, the new regime knew exactly where the club was financially when they took over. It doesn’t take financial geniuses to see the club is spending far more than it makes. Certainly, they hoped their financial situation would remain hidden so as not to reveal their motives for making Cesc hand in a transfer request.

Barca completely expected to end this media campaign with the upper hand. Instead, they have insulted and alienated Arsenal, shown their true character and undervaluation of the player, and also had their financial difficulties made public partly as a result. Their entire plan has backfired and their final hope rests on turning us, the supporters, against the player in order to make it easier for him to force the club to let him go on the cheap.

Nevertheless, if Cesc really was determined to go to Barcelona this summer, he could have handed in the transfer request or told Arsene to make the deal. This does not appear to be the case and so, just as we urge the club not to be swayed or affected by the ramblings of the self-important Catalonians, neither should we, the supporters. It is, after all, like Arsene said, “just noise.”