After easing by Vietnam's national team yesterday, Arsene Wenger commented on a few topics, but none more eyebrow-raising than his thoughts on his former player, one Mr. Cesc Fabregas. Wenger stated:
"At the moment, Fabregas has decided to stay one more year at Barcelona.
We have the clause in the contract so we would be on alert but at the moment that’s not something we’re after."
At first glance, it appears the door's shut on a Fabregas reunion with the only club that's ever really loved and respected him in a manner befitting a player of his talent and influence. However, what piqued my skepticism regarding the finality of those two sentences from Wenger is, well, how final Wenger makes a potential transfer target a mere 17 days after the transfer window officially opened. Wenger's subterfuge within the market, through the willing media, is legendary after all these years and previous transfer windows and he's shown an ability to smartly move and manipulate situations in order to achieve his desired goals. So for him to close a door on a player whose return would make the fanbase erupt in celebration seems...odd.
Why the timing of these comments now? Well, for one, there's a lot of smoke (and bullsh*t, if we're being honest) emanating from Old Trafford as of late. Attempting to move on from the Ferguson and Gill era, United and David Moyes have largely stumbled out of the blocks, having been accused by Chelsea of destabilizing two of their key players by dragging them into Wayne Rooney's transfer saga and they missed out on Thiago Alcantara, whom they let slip through their fingers out of sheer ego and ignorance to the strength of other clubs' positions. And, of course, there's been noise of late surrounding an ambitious, yet audacious, United bid for Fabregas. The last thing Wenger's doing is standing to the side and not attempting to exert his will into the matter.
He probably knows it's been a rough start for Moyes at United and he understands just how much say he and Arsenal have over where Fabregas ends up. And he probably knows that Fabregas understands that another season spent as a part-time starter like last year and he's nothing but a peripheral player for Spain next summer; to say that he can't afford not getting regular playing time, as a professional with desired goals for his career, is stating it nicely. Wenger (and Fabregas) probably assumes that everyone else in the world knows this as well. So creating a finality, of sorts, to Fabregas' stay while reminding United that he has the first, and possibly last, say in the Spaniard's future is smart. And the timing on Wenger's part couldn't be any better.
Barcelona, as you know, have spent nearly £50 million on Neymar and, as Tito Vilanova looks set to lose out on Roma's Marquinhos, whose heading to PSG, their attention surely turns back to their initial center back target, Thiago Silva. PSG has repeatedly stated he's not for sale, and Silva's said himself that wants to honor his contract with the Parisians, but the levels to which Barcelona and Madrid go to in order to improve their respective clubs borders on a Cold War arms race. Both clubs, of course, have willing banks who'll gladly
give them money for free since they have no intention on paying it back anytime soon, all in the name of regional success and pride loan them money at generous interest rates, but a time will come when they have to pay the pied piper back. If Barcelona want to attempt a raid for Silva without incurring even more debt, what better way than to fund with the sale of a current player?
Enter Fabregas' tenuous situation, one that could yield them loan-free money if they want to cash in to improve needed areas of their squad, which brings us back to Wenger's comments. In the same breath that he said "...it's very hard for us to talk about a specific case", he then brought up Fabregas and supposedly closed the door on his return. Strange, and contradictory.
Maybe I'm delusional, but I don't think the door's shut on his return after reading these comments. Wenger purposely reminded United that he has first say on Fabregas while chiding United by saying Fabregas is staying at Barcelona, thus dashing their dreams at trying to make that big signing that's eluded them this summer. Again, subterfuge. Wenger's squeezed untold millions extra from other clubs through the selling of players (often times from a position of weakness), and he's currently flexing his muscle and influence over one of his prized pupils, this time from a position of strength.
All of this is to say, read and interpret the comments as you wish and desire, but like most things managers say during these confusing and head-scratching weeks before the transfer window closes, take Wenger's comments about Fabregas as yet another attempt to manipulate a player's uncertainty, while also attempting to completely undermine a league rival, to benefit him and Arsenal in the long run.