In being that it is incredibly slow on the Arsenal front with one exception right now, and that the World Cup is still two weeks away, it is time for a bit more thought about this Cesc Fábregas story. Three things become clear upon reading various papers, as Untold Arsenal points out in a series of articles:
- Barcelona players and officials have behaved basically in a fashion contrary to the rules of UEFA on a couple of fronts, tapping-up and debt;
- The UK press, to say nothing of the Spanish press, will say anything, no matter how tenuous;
- Arsenal have remained absolutely silent about the matter except to say that they have zero intention of selling Cesc, and that they consider his future to be in London.
For his part, Fábregas himself had this to say, as reported by The Guardian's reporter (should that be in quotes?) in Spain, Sid Lowe:
I will say only one thing – I have got massive respect for Arsène Wenger, Arsenal football club and the Arsenal fans. Even in my own house, I have not felt as loved as I have at Arsenal. I had a long conversation with Arsène and it was the greatest [longest] conversation I have had with anyone in my life.
I respect him, so, so much and I don't want to say anything more. Wenger said to leave it in his hands and he will deal with whatever happens in the future. It is now all about Arsenal – it is not in my hands. Now I just wait: it is up to Arsenal. Right now all I am thinking about is the World Cup: everything else is the future and I am not going to say anything else.
So there's that.
All of this rumormongering going on is extremely tiresome. This is the first direct quote that has surfaced in days from someone who, well, matters, frankly.
However, it is pointless to speculate on what any of Cesc's words mean, really, except for that part about it being in Arsenal's hands, because that's the truest part. The larger issue at work here, of course, is that the hardest part of being a supporter or fan of any club in any sport these days is trying to work through the media. This is a topic that probably requires a book-length study, if not an academic career's worth of study. In short, though, the media essentially bombards supporters with all of this material, and a lot of it never comes true.
What is a supporter to do? If one reads through comments on various websites, one will get the impression that the primary motivator behind the comments is emotion, rather than heavy consideration. This is completely understandable. Sports are emotional, and this emotion is tied up with not just the identity of the supporter with regards to his or her club, but with the faces and names and styles that he or she comes to know. Players feel like friends or leaders.
This is obvious, but it bears repeating, because the media know how to exploit and manipulate this "friendship" that supporters have with the personalities that they follow. It may not be total consolation to the more emotional supporter, but Cesc's words - "It is up to Arsenal" - are crucial. As a supporter, one is powerless to affect anything that happens. The reaction is understandable, though; Cesc is a great player and a good captain, and to lose him could negatively affect the team.
Arsenal, though, are amongst the best-run clubs on the planet. They have Cesc under a long contract. The managerial staff are shrewd. They are well-trained. And Cesc has just had the "longest, greatest" talk with the shrewdest one of them all. Barcelona are laden with a huge, seething mass of debt, and despite their own publicity, they look to be run like a second-rate circus sometimes (a second rate circus that has enough silver to plate the Titanic, but still).
Without meaning to sound preachy, if one accepts that one can do nothing, emotion is spared. Arsenal was here before Cesc arrived; it will remain after Cesc is gone. It always has.