If ever people wanted proof that the modern footballer doesn’t honestly give two hoots about the club he plays for and its fans, as long as his wages are paid, Cesc Fabregas’s move to Chelsea is proof. Fabregas is what used to be called a “pot-hunter.” He will move wherever he has the best chance of winning a medal. Not necessarily where is best for him as a footballer.
Fabregas started his youth career at Barcelona and was then signed by Arsenal when he was 16 years of age. He spent eight years with the North London club where he won more runners up medals than winners. Five times he was a runner-up at the Gunners in the 2006 UEFA Champions League, the 2004-05 Premier League, twice in the Football League Cup in 2007 and 2011 and once in the FA Community Shield in 2005. He won one FA Cup 2005 and a FA Community Shield in 2004.
After one of the most protracted transfer sagas of all time Fabregas left Arsenal in August 2011, and joined Barcelona, a club he said he had always wanted to return to, and in truth everyone could understand that, having started there as a boy. Arsenal to be fair did not do badly out of his move, they supposedly pocketed an initial fee of €29 million with a further €5 million in variables, plus Fàbregas would pay Arsenal €1 million a year from his wage for 5-years. At the time he stated that he would never sign for another English club.
Three years into his five year deal at Barcelona he has left the ‘club of his dreams’ to play for a club he said he would never join. No doubt we will also witness him kiss the Chelsea badge when he scores; to try and convince fans that he really cares about the club he is playing for.
This is the sad fact of commercialism, a player’s word, and often his gestures mean absolutely nothing anymore, it all comes down to winning trophies and the size of the pay cheque. Sadly football is the loser in all of this. Fans want players to be loyal as they were in the past and are falling rapidly out of love with mercenaries such as Fabregas; especially when they sign for one of their former club’s arch rivals. Moves such as this simply confirm that the players never really knew what it meant to play for their former club.
To give an example from the north of England, Manchester United and Liverpool have a distinct dislike for each other and an intense rivalry. That is why in over 100 years there have only been fourteen players in the history of both clubs to play for both teams. In the last half of the century, only one of those, Phil Chisnall transferred directly between the two, when he moved from United to Liverpool in 1964. Five players prior to 1964 moved from Liverpool to United and three made the opposite journey. Paul Ince, and Michael Owen are two players to have played for both clubs in recent times, but both moved having been at other clubs previously, Ince via Inter Milan and Owen via Real Madrid and Newcastle United. The only other player to have played for both clubs is Peter Beardsley. He played just one game for Manchester United at the very start of his career, having been signed by Ron Atkinson from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The thing is it is an unwritten rule players do not ‘cross the road’ and play for “the enemy.” A book Sol Campbell obviously never read.
So when you see Fabregas kiss the Chelsea badge next season ask yourself is he kissing it because the club means something or is it a hollow gesture; or is it simply he has a goal bonus written into his contract.
(For the record the writer of this piece is NOT an Arsenal fan)