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Franckly, there’s only one replacement for Fabregas
The Arsenal manager thought he was building, slowly but surely, an Arsenal team that could go one better than the 2006 side that lost the Champions League final to Barcelona.
Unperturbed by the departure of Thierry Henry, Wenger chose to construct his new team around Cesc Fabregas, bolstered by carefully considered signings like Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin, and with a whole generation of youngsters making cases for places alongside them.
But as the wait for a first league title since 2004 has dragged on, so the criticism of Wenger’s slowly-but-surely policy has grown.
If Fabregas is granted his apparent wish to go back to Barcelona, expect even more stick for Wenger from fans and columnists talking about yet another backward step.
Once again, Wenger will be at a crossroads. Should he stay true and sign a carefully judged replacement, someone who could slot straight in and do a job while the youngsters continue to mature, someone like Mikel Arteta of Everton? Or should he consider a costlier, riskier replacement … a signing to set pulses racing and provide a touch of instant gratification?
If the latter, there is one obvious target out there in Franck Ribery, a player with all the skill of Fabregas, just as much presence on the ball and that touch of star quality all big teams need.
Arsenal obviously have the money to sign the Bayern player and bringing him in would enable Wenger to make a statement – that he will not allow events to blow his latest project off course altogether.
PHOTO: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talks to Cesc Fabregas during a team training session in London Colney, April 1, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh