Maddy’s Note: Our Journo pal Swaroop is back with his typical style and eloquence. Here’s an Arsefan with an honest, tells-it-as-he-sees-it assessment. Of course his views are his own you may not agree with them. At least not entirely.
It was September 2003. And I was watching Football Mundial – back then it was not clichéd and used to come in Star Sports/ESPN. They used to have a five-minute section dedicated to profiling upcoming youngsters. It was Cesc Fabregas’s first celluloid moment in India – and not coincidentally my first ever opportunity of watching the youngster play football.
I was being informed by the narrator that Fabregas was Arsene Wenger’s latest recruit. And I liked the look of him. There was a nice little clip of him playing football in the Barcelona academy. He was composed on the ball, wanted the ball always and liked to pass it around.
Fast forward seven years. He has come a long way since then, rising above countless hurdles and barricades in the process: Patrick Vieira against Juventus, Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, not going the Adrian Mutu way at London, managing to maintain, mostly, a level head apart from occasional misdemeanors like “Pizzagate”, faking injuries after a stray elbow from Mikel Arteta and sucking up to Thierry Henry in a couple of interviews while the Frenchman was still the boss at the Grove.
A couple of years back I was really interested in reading up on some of his interviews. Soon after the departure of Henry, Fabregas talked about how this could liberate the Arsenal midfield. According to Fabregas, Henry would get “moody and upset” if he did not get the ball even if there were other players in better positions. In another interview, Fabregas talked about his formation years at Arsenal.
Initially he did not even want to come because the Barcelona Academy had twatted the Arsenal Academy 5-0 or something like that. But fair play to Cesc , who wanted first team opportunities, for coming. After coming he formed a close bond with Philippe Senderos – strange bedfellows I must say.
After what all he has been through since forming that friendship, the catharsis is still one of “contempt, selfish and not really good” rather than “satisfied, unselfish and willing to learn always.”
Fabregas – playing on with a broken foot against Barcelona in a Champions League quarterfinal last season – almost endangered his World Cup chances. While there is a case for questioning his ulterior motive, anyone who knows an ounce of behavioral science will vouch for the fact that he was playing for the Arsenal gallery and not for impressing the already infatuated Juan Laporta.
He still managed to go to the World Cup – making clear his ambitions of moving on back to Catalonia before going to South Africa. While Arsenal hid from Barcelona, Barcelona’s famous UNICEF ambassadors were endorsing openly for his return. He managed to keep a dignified silence – occasionally saying he wanted to go before reiterating something on the lines of “I love the Arsenal fans,” – Cesc, I strongly believe that you don’t need to do that again and again.
Now that there seems to some sort of an impasse, almost an understanding truce that Arsenal WILL SELL Cesc next season if not this season, Arsenal will have to repay Cesc’s loyalty – he has been man enough to not hand in a transfer request till now – in the best possible manner.
Buy Mesut Ozil, a centre back, a high quality goal-keeper and give Cesc a realistic tilt of winning the league title. While his greatness – no, that’s used too often these days – stay in England wouldn’t be considered any inferior if he was to leave for Iberia without a title to his credit, it will make his psychologically a better player.
It will give him the satisfaction of achieving something tangible at the Grove and he can walk back with his held high.