16 July 2013

Man U does us a favor in its bid for Cesc

I couldn't be happier to hear that Man U have put in a bid for Cesc Fabregas. In fact, this might be some of the best news of the silly season, as far as I'm concerned. As scary as it might have initially been to hear that another club is bidding for him, this sets in motion a number of wheels, all of which are turning for us. Let's remember that Cesc holds a special emotional appeal for Gooners and we should be careful of investing too much of our emotional energy into hoping for his return. Having said that, it's intriguing to consider the possibilities. It's all very pie-in-the-sky, but it's a lot more fun than pondering Suarez's candidacy.

We've previously looked at whether or not to pursue dear Cesc here and pondered the rising Spanish Armada at Arsenal here, but Man U's apparent bid is the first time in a while that the possibility of Cesc's return has taken on any life.

First, let's deal with the cold, hard cash element. Since 2011 (the first year that FFP regulations apply) and including the current transfer window, Man U is a full -£92m in transfer revenues over the last three seasons, and Barcelona is in similarly bad shape at -£81.5m. Arsenal sits on a tidy positive balance of £17.8m. Barcelona's debt is fueled in large part by its signing of Neymar, so they will have to start looking for other ways to trim that deficit. They've already let Thiago Alcantara and David Villa leave for pennies on the dollar, and they've resigned Sergio Busquets to a new contract with a buy-out clause of some £130m. In other words, they continue to bleed out faster than a stuck pig.

Man U is in similarly dire straits, having splashed out £27m on van Persie last year and a combined £50.5m on de Gea, Jones, and Young in 2011, and being linked with Ronaldo for some astronomically ludicrous (or is it ludicrously astronomic?) sum. The best they can offer for Cesc is £26m? Yes, this is a low-ball bid to test the waters and so on, but it also indicates a certain trepidation from Old Trafford. Yes, they won the Prem last year, but it was with a team widely regarded as among Ferguson's weakest in years. With new manager Moyes, you might expect some new signings to bolster the squad and steady the ship—but there's been little news other than some murmurs about Lewandowski and Baines, and now this bit with Cesc.

Enter Arsenal, stage right.

When Cesc left, Arsène was cagey enough to have reportedly inserted a few clauses: a right of first-refusal, a 50% sell-on clause, and a buy-back of around £25m. If Man U is serious about this bid, then, they haven't exceeded that buy-back clause. If Barcelona is desperate enough to accept the bid, we get to activate the first-refusal and take Cesc back. I don't see the £25m bid getting anywhere, though, not for a player valued at upwards of £40m. A team in Barcelona's financial straits is not about to sell him at less than his value, especially while knowing that we'll get half of whatever they'd get for him. Could they really sell him on to Man U, getting only £12.5 out of it—getting just a fraction of his value while taking a £20m loss on what they paid for him two years ago? Not likely. Let's step in and match Man U's bid straight up: £25m. In order to better our bid, Man U would have to double that and then some for their bid to be more attractive than ours. Long story short, Arsène holds all of the cards, at least for now.

Having dealt with the grubby financials, let's deal with other, warmer, sentimental issues. Cesc has had a chance to win silverware with his boyhood club. He's gotten a chance to play for Pep. However, it must be a little frustrating for him to have to squeeze onto the pitch here, there, and everywhere. With Neymar's arrival, the midfield will get just a bit more crowded, and Cesc can see how the club responds to Man U's offer to see just how much he's wanted at the Camp Nou. If he's at all dissatisfied or disappointed, he can glance at London and see that his son is there for school, remember his familiar haunts, and, of course, lock eyes with Arsène.  Yes, yes, I'm sure van Persie has whispered to him, trying to lure him to Old Trafford. If he goes there, he's "Vanchester's" second-fiddle. If he comes back to Ashburton Grove, he's instantly and unquestionably the most-beloved and adored player on the squad—with little complaint from anyone else. How much better would Giroud or Walcott or Podolski be with through-balls from Cesc? It's almost too much to imagine. As exciting as it's been to wonder about Higuaín or Rooney, I might just lose my mind if talk around Cesc heats up.

Having said all of that, I must say, thank you, Man U, for nudging this dream just a little closer to reality.

Last but not least, voting continues in the 2012-13 YAMA awards, and Woolwich 1886 is nominated as a Best New Blog. I hope you'll go over and vote! Thanks!