The Great Cesc Fabregas Transfer saga Mystery has taken yet another turn with the publication of a video from the Spanish national team’s latest pre-World Cup press conference. Barcelona’s Gerald Pique is exchanging gossip with his national team manager Vicente del Bosque. Both have covered their mouths with their hands to avoid being lip-read – however, apparently unbeknownst to them, the microphones were turned on and their private chat was recorded.
In the clip, Pique tells his manager that Fabregas has told him that his transfer move is completed, for 33 million euros. Del Bosque responds, with an exasperated laugh, that the news is the last straw, that it’s likely to stir up trouble and that things will go crazy. The only thing they don’t mention is which club Fabregas is off to.
The clip has sent caused wild speculation in Spain, with the general consensus that the buying club is indeed Chelsea. If so, that may mean that Jose Mourinho has lost a battle against the club hierarchy – who, according to earlier reports, were much more keen on acquiring the former Arsenal man that the manager was.
The reports claimed that Mourinho was lukewarm about Fabregas, preferring the younger talents of Koke or Paul Pogba. If Barcelona have managed to sell Fabregas, the chances are that they will snap up Koke. So it is possible that Chelsea have beaten a tactical retreat, accepted that they couldn’t lure (or possibly afford) the Atletico Madrid midfielder, and settled for Fabregas instead.
Despite the misgivings of many Chelsea fans, who maintain a level of enmity and ridicule for the Catalan, Fabregas would provide a more than adequate replacement for the departing Frank Lampard. At 27, he should be at the peak of his career. He has many years’ experience of football in the Premier League and the Champions League. And he’s a dynamic midfielder with superb passing and tactical awareness, a wicked shot and an eye for goal.
The downsides? Firstly, he has, throughout his career, shown a hostility towards Chelsea and Jose Mourinho – though that may have more to do with the identity of his employers than the nature of the man himself.
Secondly, he is a two-touch rather than a one-touch, player – which, Patrick Vieira has argued, is one of the reasons Arsenal were never quite as good once he became the main creative hub. Vieira opines that Fabregas’s playing rhythm was slightly out of kilter with the speed the Arsenal team was used to.
Whether that is a valid argument is debatable. In any case, Chelsea play with less pace than the Arsenal of Vieira and Henry, so that would be likely to be less of a problem. More of an issue is how he would be used, if it is true that he is not Mourinho’s first choice. Jose has historically not been keen on having players foisted on him by the board, and in the days of Financial Fair Play, we can ill afford to waste more than £25 million on a player who could end up sitting on the bench.
The football world awaits the next twist in this tale. Was Pique correct? Has a deal been done? And if so, who with? Stay tuned for the next episode.