The season has finished and we still have 8 days until the transfer window officially opens, so its that time of year where clubs sound out their top targets for the summer. And for many clubs it means a mammoth amount of talk about their best players being linked somewhere else.
And this is a feeling an Arsenal fan knows too well. Having put up with the Barcelona hierarchy and players drone on and on about Cesc Fabregas last summer, the gooners knew full well that Barca would be back for round two once the European Cup had been placed into the cabinet. And as if on cue, here we go…
I for one, love the way Barcelona play football, and they are fortunate enough to have a dozen or so of the world’s best footballers at the peak of their talents at the same time in the same team. I love the ethos Pep Guardiola has as a manager and if anyone has ever been to the Camp Nou, it is a majestic stadium. However, one thing I dislike (besides the constant theatrics – Busquets looking at you here, son) is the way they go about their business. And it would be unfair to just tar Barca with that brush, as many clubs, even Arsenal themselves have been accused of unsettling players in the past. However, given the hype around this case, the fact it includes two Champions League teams, one of the top players in the game, and that it has dragged on for two years, Barcelona have deserved this special mention.
And why get so upset? Is it because I begrudge Fabregas a move to one of the top clubs in the world? Or that the Premier League would suffer? Or Barcelona may possibly get stronger? No, its because at the minute Barcelona are all bark and no bite. It’s all well and good going on and on about a player, but if you’re not willing to put your money where your mouth is, you should just keep it shut. Last year, Gerard Pique, Xavi, Puyol, Villa various member of the Barca hierarchy, all said how Fabregas would be great at Barca, yet the club would not meet Arsenal’s demands. Now this year has come around and its the same story. I have never known desire and talk to pay for a transfer before, although that seems to be all Barcelona are offering. A player’s value depends on the selling club; it’s what they value their asset as. If a player is under contract then it is his club that should have the authority (not always the case these days). Therefore Arsenal have no obligation to accept a bid that they feel is not enough. Then Barcelona come out and say the player is not worth as much as he was last year citing ‘wear and tear’! What do they expect, Arsenal to agree and say ‘ yeah you’re right, he’s 24, not much left in him now’?!
The twist comes in Barcelona’s pursuit of other players. They are keen admirers of ex United striker Giuseppe Rossi, who will cost upwards of 20m, and are reported to have bid 33m for Alexis Sanchez. If this is true, and the club that publically announced it has 45m euros to spend this summer, has indeed bid for the Udinese playmaker, one begins to wonder how serious Barca are about Fabregas. Not willing to pay 35m for a player who has been a top performer with CL experience for several years, but willing to take a 33m punt on a player who has had one great season and no CL experience. Cesc are you hearing this? Is that really a club that values you as much as they say. No doubt, Barca want a cut price deal, but if you’re gonna talk about being serious about a player then show it in your actions too. So far Cesc has said he is happy where he is, and that announcement was probably prompted by the fact that he has no idea what Barca are up to, and he doesn’t want to upset his current situation.
I have no idea if Fabregas will be an Arsenal player next year because I have no idea if Barca will front up the money to back their claims. What I do know, is that this kind of unsettling shouldn’t be allowed, although Arsenal fans are used to it by now I’m sure having gone through similar situations year-on-year with Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, although this one seems to take the biscuit.
And of course this isn’t the only case, Real Madrid did a similar thing with Cristiano Ronaldo a few years ago, although United stayed strong and got the money for their man, and to be honest haven’t done too badly since! And now I fear the same may be happening for Spurs and Luka Modric. Having had a good couple of seasons, Harry seems to be building something at Spurs, so the last thing he needs is a team, from his own division too, unsettling one of his star men. But that’s exactly what Chelsea did. A bid of 22m, in todays market anyway, was nowhere near what Spurs value the little Croatian at, but it was enough to turn Modric’s head and say ‘we’re looking at you’. So now the player expresses his desire to leave and despite Tottenham having a contract with the player, may well be bullied into selling one of their top players.
And as I say, every club is guilty of it, and in todays game where money and player power seem to have the most influence it will be interesting to see what happens this summer. I no doubt expect Fabregas to return to his boyhood club, whether it be now or in the future. And as for Modric, I would urge him to stay for one more year a least, if Tottenham can find one or two more decent players and find the consistency to maintain their challenge throughout the whole season, it may be the best place for him.