It’s been of little surprise that, since the news of Cesc Fabregas’ move to Chelsea surfaced on Thursday, Arsenal fans have been left bemused by the latest career move of their erstwhile luminary. Many will find it hard to fathom the sight of the diminutive Spaniard in a blue shirt next season but the overwhelming emotion of disillusionment stems from Arsene Wenger’s apparent decision to snub the midfielder.
Fabregas has since revealed, whether it’s to be believed or not, that he spoke to his former manager on the basis Arsenal had first refusal on him as part of the contract he signed with Barcelona in 2011. The 27-year-old claims that Wenger told him his ‘position at the club had been filled’ and he wasn’t required in North London.
There are no prizes for guessing what Arsenal fans no doubt feel about that. But, looking at the bigger picture, what would lead the French tactician to turn his nose up at the prospect of a Fabregas return? If truth be told, Arsenal’s armoury is quite well equipped in the midfield department but to decline signing a player of Fabregas’ class is another story. There certainly isn’t the lack of fund; Arsenal have been heavily linked with several players this summer and had a big bid for Luis Suarez rebuffed last summer.
One player, according to reports, they’re keeping tabs on is Lyon playmaker Clement Grenier. Of course, speculation is just that but it’s widely known that Wenger is an admirer of the young Frenchman and has pinpointed him as a target to bolster his ranks. But, do they need him? According to Wenger they don’t because he shut the door on Fabregas. Or was that just his riposte to Fabregas for leaving the club after they had nurtured him into the player he now is?
Either way, Grenier is clearly of interest to Wenger and few would grumble if he was to appear in an Arsenal shirt come the start of the season. After all, his ascension through the ranks at the Stade Gerland from youth academy to first team starlet has been an incredible one in such a short space of time. Although finding the net just four times last term, the 23-year-old contributed a whole lot more by creating 55 chances for teammates and a pass accuracy in the final third of 77%.
He is, in every sense, a player of Arsenal ilk; comfortable on the ball, nimble in possession, quick over the ground, has an eye for a pass and a beautifully composed disposition but what would he add that they don’t already have? In truth, not a whole lot more and doubts will remain over whether he’ll be able to bridge the gap between Ligue 1 and the England top flight as well as managing the weight of expectation that a price tag such as £12 million would bring.
Unfortunately for player and indeed potential employers, Grenier’s groin injury denied him the opportunity to showcase his talents on the biggest stage at the World Cup. There is no doubt he’s a fledgling talent and would suit Arsenal’s style of play but he is no better than what they already have at their disposal.
Usually deployed at the top of a midfield diamond by Lyon, he would face stiff competition from Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky.
There are no doubts over his promise and could prove to be a worthy investment for the future but for Wenger, he should concentrate on the present. Arsenal desperately require a new striker to support Oliver Giroud and a replacement for Bacary Sagna at right-back so their attention needs to lie elsewhere. You can only play a couple of attacking midfielders, there is no reason to be top heavy in that department when others are threadbare.
Although the sight of a new signing flaunting the club’s jersey quickens the pulse of the fans and gives them a sense of anticipation ahead of the new campaign but it would be far more beneficial if the name on the back of that shirt was one of a world class striker or right-back. Only then should they focus on securing the signature of Grenier.Published 16 Jun 2014, 20:45 IST