06 June 2014

Through the looking-glass with Fàbregas: the master-plan...

I think I'm onto something so top-secret, so heretofore unheard of, that it'll blow your minds. I hope you're sitting down. Once realized, it was staggering in its simplicity: Arsène wants Chelsea to bid for Fàbregas. £33m? Sure. Go for it, Jose. Heck, bid £60m. Do it. We won't exercise the buy-back option, I promise. If we end up collecting a bit of cash through this other "we get 50%" clause, so be it. We'll shrug our shoulders and find a way to cope with having once again been beaten in a game of poker with stakes so high we shouldn't even try to play. Yep. That's the plan.

Dear God, let that be the plan. If we have a chance to get a player of Cesc's quality—and set aside the sentimental notions, he's still one of the best midfielders in the world—we have to go after him. If Arsène is coyly letting Mourinho think that he can tweak Arsène's ear by signing a midfielder who is arguably just as surplus to Chelsea's needs as he is (apparently) to Arsenal's, so much the better. If, however, Arsène is sitting idly by, twiddling his thumbs, and casually letting Cesc return to London, well, I don't know what I'll do.

Yes, I'll admit that some of this stems from those sentimental attachments. Cesc is more than just a great player who once played for Arsenal. He is talismanic and symbolic about so many ideals and hopes. He doesn't just offer us top, top quality and value; he represents something beyond the numbers and formations and tactics. Those who deny this may not have seen him play for Arsenal and base their estimation of him on his absence and on his ambivalent performances at Barcelona.

However, if emotion was the only reason for signing a player, we could bring back Henry, Pires, and Bergkamp. There's more to it than that, though. Letting Cesc slip away would likely ruin his reputation once and for all. If we directed venom at van Persie or Cole or Nasri, how would we respond to Cesc in Chelsea blue? It's one thing for him to go home to Barcelona, but I can't bear the idea of playing against him, seeing him consort with the Specious One. Could I bring himself to insult him? Call him names? I don't know. Beyond him, though, letting him go to a rival would peel back the last remaining layers of faith I have in the club's direction under Arsène. If he doesn't understand the passion and faith Cesc still inspires in so many Gooners, and if he doesn't believe that having Cesc on the pitch would make us dramatically better, and if he doesn't understand that letting Cesc go to Chelsea would further consign us to finishing behind Chelsea, well, he's lost me.

Where would Cesc fit in, skeptics ask. When a player of Cesc's calibre is available, and when he's available at the cut-rate price he's apparently available for, you shoot first and ask questions later. What happened to Wengerball? What happened to a posse of creative, attacking midfielders flitting about the field as befuddled defenders stumble around after them, wondering whom to mark, how the guy who started on the right is now on the left and vice-versa, and when if ever his team will get to touch the ball aside for plucking it from the back of the net and kicking off? We can find room for Cesc. Heck, make room for him. Is he significantly better than Ramsey or Özil? That's a debate for another time. They don't seem to be asking such questions over at Stamford Bridge.

This has got to be a scam arranged by Arsène to lure Mourinho into a trap. Let him go in for Cesc and activate this "first-refusal" clause that Arsène inserted into Cesc's contract: "Er, um excuse me, Jose, but I must bend your ear, if that is how the saying goes. You see, there is a little bit niggle in Cesc's contract. It applies a little bit handbrake on his move to Chelsea." Yoink! Jose is left empty-handed while Cesc and Arsène hug. And scene. Please?

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