Sometimes, an internet leave of absence is just what the doctor ordered. I rolled up my trouser legs, knotted my hanky and set off south for ten days, and being too stingy to pay for 3G abroad, I made do without the interwebs entirely.
Well, not entirely. When I encountered unlocked wifi (as I did, rather excitedly, in a Co-op car park) I inhaled it and I inhaled it deep. But by and large, I made do with old-fashioned methods of communication (pigeons, text messages).
In that time we signed Oxlade-Chamberlain (one for the future), Campbell (one for the future).
But last night, we bowed to the inevitable – perhaps a year after we should have done – and agreed to sell Cesc Fabregas (one for the now) back to Barcelona. People decry it as a poor deal when he could have been sold for £50m on the open market, but this was never an open market deal and besides, it still amounts to a £35m ish profit on our initial outlay. Now all he needs to do it pass his medical. Will his hamstrings heal in time? I reckon a couple of strepsils should sort it.
Cesc has been a magnificent player for Arsenal, and he gave us eight excellent years of service. While many questioned the ability and attitude of some around him, on the pitch he himself was peerless. Without doubt one of the best midfielders I have seen in my years at Arsenal. Calm on the ball, tenacious, great touch, an eye for a pass, the ability to create and score goals. Yes, he was that good. My favourite moment? This of course.
What if we had packed the midfield and defence with experienced winners to complement him? We would probably have won something, but even then would he have stayed? I doubt it. He was always going to go back and I for one can certainly not begrudge him that.
That said, his desperation to go home this summer, coupled with Nasri’s rather clear intentions to make use of the exit door, has made for a rotten summer. Arsenal have handled both issues badly. Barcelona must shoulder blame too for the way they have driven the price down.
What does it all mean? For me, both players have been sold at least a month too late (assuming Nasri goes). Now, I know Arsenal were unable to drive the timings here, but to sell two of your most creative and experienced players after the season begins and right before a crucial – and tricky – Champions League qualifier is dismal and leaves us scrabbling for reinforcements.
Sort both deals out and we will have more cash than most clubs can dream of to strengthen.
It’s a boring old drum to bang, but bang it I must: We need to spend money.
In the meantime, good luck to you Cesc, and thanks.