It seems clear already that Cesc Fabregas will depart the Gunners for his boyhood club Barcelona before the end of this summer’s transfer window. It will leave a huge gap in Arsenal’s midfield, Fabregas is a creator of many chances, many goals, and has a knack for scoring important ones himself. More importantly, Fabregas was Arsenal’s Captain, and transfering your Captain to another can have many diverse effects of the squad. All of this turns the fire up on Arsene Wenger who is clearly having a make or break year with the Gunners this season. He has already failed to sign most of his transfer targets but has improved the squad with the goalscoring additon of Gervinho, yet time will tell the Frenchman’s affect on the Premier League. But the Fabregas saga still looms over the Emirates:
Enter Juan Mata
As someone who has watched Juan Mata for years, I’d say he’s about as close to Fabregas as you can get without the price. Mata, only 23, has been a key talisman for club Valencia over the last 3 seasons. He lifted the World Cup trophy with Spain in 2010, and added an Under-21 World Cup title with Spain this summer. Mata shows everything you want in a footballer, fluidity, vision, control, & maturity. He also is looking for a challenge and a way to distinguish himself from many other Spanish footballers vying for a place of the national team. A move to England would really suit him, especially to Arsenal who some say at the ‘Spanish team’ of the Premier League.
With Fabregas surely gone, Arsenal will have to rely on its young midfielders Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, & Theo Walcott to produce goals as well as score them. Decision-making in the midfield will determine Arsenal’s season, and with such a young team, Mata’s experience at the highest level will make an invaluable addition. He is the type of player that is always two, three, or four passes ahead and those players always end up being the best footballers. Players with a similar quality include, Xavi, Iniesta, & Xabi Alonso, who can not only see the pass, but can actually pull it off, on the pitch, in a match, against tough opposition - something most players can’t do outside the training ground.
Whether Arsenal will win something this year even with Mata on the books is still up for grabs. Some say Wengers boys aren’t strong enough to compete against men for 9 months - physically or emotionally - after their collapse last season. Fabregas himself said that going from competing for 4 trophies to none in two weeks, heavily influenced his decision to want to leave the club. There are stronger teams in the Premier League than last year, two years ago, three, four, five, possibly ever. Wenger might have to change the tactics that have worked for him in the past because the league isn’t like it was a decade ago. With Man City buying players, Liverpool strengthening their depth, Chelsea spewing out cash as well, with Man Utd a threat as always, Arsenal will have to be fighting to even get a sniff of 5th place as Liverpool found out the hard way last season.
But like the blasphemy that encurred before the end of the Benitez era at LFC, Arsene Wenger may be entering his last season at Arsenal. We’ll have to see if the Frenchman can even make it to the end, and if he signs enough good players to win trophies, because it’s been a long time since the Gunners have won silverware & more and more legions of Arsenal supporters are growing impatient and thinking that they’ve waited long enough.
Who knows, Mata could save the day. The only thing keeping him from the Gunners is Malaga who are the new Man City of La Liga, and may swoop in to buy him at the last moment.
Either way, it should be a very interesting season for the Gunners.