01 June 2014

Odds of a Fàbregas reunion at 15/8? Where's my man-purse?

The rumors continue to swirl around Cesc Fàbregas making his way back to Arsenal, and as we try to look past the meth-addled click-bait peddled by various tabloids I won't even bother to mention by name, it is intriguing to see that skybet is offering odds of 15/8 as I write, odds that could very well shift one way or another. As Wallace Stevens puts it, "This is how the wind shifts/Like the thoughts of an old human/Who still thinks eagerly/And despairingly." Eagerly. Despairingly. Our eagerness knows no bounds, and even if our optimism clouds our judgment, a colder, harder assessment still yields a similar conclusion: sign this man. We may not need him as urgently as we want him, but we sure could use him.

Betting odds are a slightly more-reliable way to gauge how likely a rumor is. After all, skybet, bwin, ladbrokes, make their money by putting that money where their mouths are. If they had any advance, insider-knowledge that a transfer would actually go through, they'd stop taking bets (this doesn't mean that shutting down the bets proves anything, though). As the odds of Fàbregas to Arsenal shift from 7/4 (where they were a few days ago) to 15/8, eagerness vies with despair, inviting us and mocking us at the same time.

Perhaps alone among the players we're linked to, we more or less know the fee. £30m. Reportedly. Compare that to what we have to play for, say, Cavani. £50m? Once the bidding and negotiating are done, it's anyone's guess as to what another transfer will cost. With Cesc, we more or less know what we'd be paying; we also know, more or less, what we'd be getting. What he means to the club is harder to quantify. The surge in confidence and belief, not to mention class, would be immeasurable. Nevermind selection-dilemmas or who plays where. We've gotten by with two very limited midfielders for the last two seasons—for all of their efforts, Arteta and Flamini are not getting any quicker or mobile any time soon. A midfield that features Ramsey, Wilshere, Fàbregas rotating and exchanging through the middle would offer a significant upgrade on our ambitions and our end-product.

Who'd get left out? It need not matter. The spirit and ethos of the current squad seem democratic enough that sitting should not feel like a demotion, not when you're sitting behind Fàbregas or Özil. If anything, the depth and competition should hone everyone's quality and desire to razor-sharpness. We've already suffered from thinness and injury, after all, so why worry about the luxury of depth? Madness. Far better to worry about whom to leave out than who's even available. So Cazorla makes way for Özil one week? He comes back next week hungrier and fresher.

For what it's worth, think also of the boost he'd provide to younger, still-developing players like Wilshere and Ramsey. For all of the growth they've each gone through in his absence, playing alongside him or sitting and watching him can only help. Özil is a fantastic player, but he doesn't strike me as being willingness to mentor or lead in the same way that Fàbregas would. The leadership that he could provide both on and off the pitch is something well-worth considering. For as wonderful as Ramsey's season was, how much better might he get from playing alongside Fàbregas? What of Wilshere? On one hand, each of them would pick up tricks of the trade far faster than they could on their own. Would one or both of them sit from time to time? So much the better. I seem to remember something about red lines or niggles or something.

Those worrying and insisting that we have other, higher priorities are not wrong. We'll still need a back-up keeper, probably a right-back, certainly a striker. Addressing those needs not only would get easier after sigining Fàbregas, it might even get less-urgent and less expensive. How much better might Ramsey or Wilshere get? What about Giroud or Walcott? How much better would the squad as a whole be? We'd be dominating possession to an extent that would render us less likely to concede and more likely to score. Players would see this as a club full of ambition and drive and quite a bit more interested in joining the cause. Sure, some of this is far-fetched, but our starting point was "Fàbregas is back", so I can hardly be blamed for a flight of fancy or two. Let's see if the rumors prove true. In the meantime, dare to dream...

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