Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at the latest round of speculation over the future of Cesc Fabregas and classy Mali striker Frederic Kanoute’s decision to play on at Sevilla for one more season.
Do Barca really need to splash out on Cesc?
The annual ‘will Cesc Fabregas leave Arsenal and return to Barcelona’ media machine has been cranking into gear in recent weeks and the man himself showed up in Madrid last week to present a new fragrance at a trendy art gallery near Atocha railway station.
Without having the decency to ask anything about the perfume, the assembled sports hacks packing the room subjected the slightly embarrassed-looking Spain international to a sustained grilling about his future.
Depending on which Spanish newspaper you worked for, Fabregas was either definitely on his way back club he left as a 16-year-old in 2003, had committed his future to Arsenal or was cosying up to Real Madrid.
Ask most football fans about what day in the season they looked forward to the most in the past and the FA Cup would have often topped the list, but the grand old competition is on the wane.
On Tuesday the bank-rolled Manchester City outfit reached the Champions League qualifiers for next season and could even secure an automatic berth if they pip Arsenal to third place in the Premier League. That would be a real kick in the guts to Arsene Wenger, who has barely spent anything in comparison to City since he took over the North Londoners in 1996.
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.
Breaking news from Spain, where Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign David Villa from Valencia for 40 million euros.
The timing is interesting, coming as it does immediately after Barcelona successfully completed the defence of their league title, and before the distractions of a presidential election.
In a couple of short sentences, Cesc Fabregas summed up Wednesday night’s humdinger of a Champions League game pretty well perfectly, and made a persuasive case for a selection gamble that could make or break the Arsenal season.
Arsene Wenger’s appointment of Cesc Fabregas as captain is more than just a strategic move, designed to ward off Barcelona attempts to recover the one that got away. The decision also says something significant about the way Wenger sees Arsenal Football Club.
Wenger has changed the youth system, the players’ diets and the style of play and he has now appointed a captain made in the image of another gifted Catalan, Josep Guardiola i Sala.
Even manager Arsene Wenger has no clue which version of Arsenal will turn up to matches at the moment.
The one that swept aside Manchester United last week with a dazzling brand of football, thrashed Blackburn Rovers 4-0 away and dismantled Fenerbahce in Istanbul or the one that lost at home to Hull City, got bullied into defeat at Stoke City and was well-beaten 2-0 at home by Aston Villa last weekend.
When Aleksandr Hleb and Mathieu Flamini left Arsenal in the close season with no obvious replacements you might have been tempted to question Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy.
Well, Cesc Fabregas was not among the doubters, as he told Reuters this week. Cesc says he always had faith in the man who brought him in from Barcelona as an unknown teenager (as well he might).
The Spanish sports paper devoted an editorial and a couple of articles yesterday urging Real Madrid to get on with the job and sign the Portuguese forward asap. Today, they have vox pops from fans saying much the same sort of thing and it looks like their campaign to get things moving is going to continue.