Manchester United and Chelsea have been given a boost in their pursuit of Cesc Fàbregas after Arsenal decided against activating their buy-back clause on the ex-Gunner. Fàbregas was all but put up for sale when his club Barcelona announced they would be listen to offers starting at £30 million.
Fàbregas spent most of his youth career at the Balugrana before Arsenal signed him in 2003. After scoring 35 league goals in 212 appearances, the Spaniard said he was homesick and wanted to return to his boyhood club. In 2011, his wish was granted and he was sold back to Barça for £35 million.
Although Fàbregas won trophies at the Camp Nou, including La Liga, he found it hard to force his way into the team on a regular basis, with Xavi and Andrés Iniesta forming a solid midfield partnership. Last summer, then United manager David Moyes tried on more than one occasion to secure Fàbregas, but neither the player nor his club wanted a deal to happen. Instead, Fàbregas decided to stay for another season and fight for his place.
Apart from United, only former club Arsenal were linked with a move for the player. Manchester City were said to be interested but quickly quashed the rumors. However, in recent days, Chelsea boss José Mourinho has expressed an interest in signing Fàbregas as Chelsea prepare for life without the recently departed Frank Lampard. Although it is unclear whether Fàbregas would prefer a move to Old Trafford or London, a bidding war from both clubs is likely to see Barça get more than the £30 million starting price.
Although both United and Chelsea fell short in last season’s Premier League title race, the former are in more serious need of bolstering their midfield. With Marounae Fellaini failing to impress in his first season and Michael Carrick now well into his 30’s, United have been forced to play players out of position in order to toughen up the midfield. Fàbregas would give the club and the Old Trafford fans a much-needed boost when new boss Louis van Gaal takes to the dugout in August.
United’s Spanish players, David de Gea and Juan Mata, have reportedly tried to convince the player to move to United and both are on international duty with Fàbregas now as Spain begins its defense of the World Cup in Brazil later this month. Former United and current Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué set tongues wagging when he said the midfielder told him he was leaving. Piqué was talking to Spain national team manager Vicente Del Bosque ahead of a press conference with the microphones picking up the comments. However, while many believe Piqué was careless, others believe he was deliberately trying to lead the waiting media astray.
The chances are a deal has been done and the world wants to see who of his potential suitors – United, Chelsea or another – have persuaded Fàbregas his future lies with them. If either United or Chelsea can secure Fàbregas, whoever gets the Spaniard will have a player entering his peak – and a player who can can give their title chances a massive boost in the meantime.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd