Arsene Wenger gave short shrift to these rumours in the wake of the weekend’s FA Cup tie. He said: “I have a good sense of humour, but I don’t understand this one. We have the contract of the player and we would inform you if we would sell the player. We sell nobody.” And with the Gunners continuing to compete on four fronts it is easy to see why Wenger is unwilling to deplete his squad, especially when it comes to the prized asset.
Prior to the rumours surfacing, Fabregas insisted he is happy at the club and appeared to pledge himself until he lifts silverware as captain: “Why would I want to leave? It is fantastic here. It would be a dream to lift trophies for Arsenal. It has always been my wish.” However, he refused to rule out an eventual departure: “Afterwards you can always be attracted by something else, like a new objective, or new challenges,” but quickly moved to dampen speculation over an imminent transfer by clarifying: “My real challenge as captain of Arsenal is to bring this football club success.” It has appeared clear for quite some time that Fabregas will make a much-anticipated return to Barcelona, with the only remaining question marks hanging over the transfer fee he will command and when the deal will be concluded. As such, speculation over his mental state rather than transfer status has ensued, leaving the player disheartened: “It hurt me a lot to be injured and then hear some things, that my head was not here and my heart was somewhere else.”
Given Arsenal’s progress in the Carling Cup and continuing challenge in the league, Arsenal fans may face an unpleasant dilemma. Should he keep his word and remain as long as it takes to win silverware, logically the only way for the club to keep its talisman is to extend the barren spell that is rapidly approaching six painful years. By contrast, should Fabregas lift the Carling Cup, with this success proving the catalyst for further trophies, he may no longer feel the same dedication to the club after completing his stated mission of winning silverware.
Following the line of reasoning that the club is bigger than any one player, the latter option appears the more preferable of the two. Similarly, with the potential British midfield axis of Aaron Ramsey, back on the bench for Saturday’s cup tie, and Jack Wilshere, the impact of a Fabregas departure may diminish with every passing season. But for now, Arsenal need their captain at his dynamic best as they seek to end the drought and they can take a significant step towards silverware with victory over Ipswich.