Six years, the number of years Arsenal have gone without a trophy has become one of the most mooted statistics in football, perhaps only exceeded by the number of years its been since England last won the world cup. It is Wenger who has rightly borne the brunt of the criticism for the Gunners seemingly perennial failure to convert potential into silverware since 2005 and the time has come for the Frenchman to act to prevent the malaise that threatens to engulf his club.
Judging by the reports, Cesc Fabregas already has one foot out the door and Samir Nasri is willing to jump ship and set off for pastures new. To allow both to leave is of course unthinkable and in any case even with the money gained from their sales there would be no time to adequately replace them this summer. However the reported 35 million pound offered for Fabregas from Barcelona should be accepted with alacrity.
The Spaniard clearly has his head already in Catalonia and has been blighted by injuries over the past few seasons leading to the feeling the time has come to cash in. Fabregas remains one of the top three most talented players in the premiership yet a brutal assessment of his career at Arsenal would reveal he has rarely performed when his club has needed him most, constantly going missing when the Gunners have toiled against United and Chelsea. It is understandable that the Gunners want to hold out for 50 million for what they perceive to be closer to his true value yet keeping him for another season could prove counter productive.
The case of Nasri is an interesting one, he only has a year left on his contract and Wenger has already stated his desire to keep the Frenchmen and avoid selling him now even if it risks losing him on a free transfer next year. Selling Fabregas would ensure Nasri`s stay for another year and possibly persuade him to sign a contract extension by enabling Nasri to flourish in the central midfield, it is no secret the Frenchman has looked inhibited when the two have played together with Nasri being forced to play out wide. Fabregas departure would enable Nasri to take center stage and continue his development after a coming of age season.
Perhaps the strongest argument to sell Fabregas would be how the money generated from his sale could be utilized. Wenger’s refusal to invest in a proven and experienced centre half and goalkeeper has almost beggared belief, the money gained would take away his excuse of being financially constrained and help strengthen Arsenal where the rest of us have known they are weak for a number of years. It could revitalise Arsenal the same way the departure of Torres did for Liverpool and the emergence of Jack Wilshere means Fabregas would not have to be directly replaced. The sooner Fabregas is allowed to return to Barcelona as he so cherishes, the more time Wenger will have to go out and acquire the high caliber players required.
Wenger has come out with a typically stoic stance over the pair insisting both are here to stay. Yet if the Spaniard were to stay it is not difficult to envisage a situation whereby after another year of ritual humiliation for the Gunners (brilliant through autumn, falter through winter, implode in spring) next summer would see both leave together with Wenger powerless. Not only would that be a devastating blow but it could lead to further departures as more and more players grow disillusioned with the state of affairs, something with could irrevocably damage the clubs ambitions.
Wenger faces his toughest season to date, Manchester City have cracked the top four and will only grow stronger, Liverpool are resurgent under Dalglish and Chelsea and United remain the main contenders for the title. It could tax Wenger just to come fourth, not qualifying for the Champions League would be disastrous, the first step to salvation is to sell Fabregas as soon as possible to prevent the malaise from becoming a terminal disease.
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