The Moderator’s Opening Remarks


We’re back, with what might be our most controversial choice of topic till date. That Cesc Fabregas has strong links to Barcelona is undeniable; it would take the most jingoistic Gooner out there to deny that he hasn’t at some point seen Fabregas leave for Barcelona and the Nou Camp mother-ship. So this unfolding seemingly-endless saga of will-he-won’t-he is more a question of when, not if. You’d think that two sets of fans who fervently believe in the beautiful game, would find a lot more common ground. But this is the captain of the lesser accomplished side we’re talking about; a man the other side sees as its prodigal son. Professional football isn’t necessarily a democratic world, but one run to the tune of financial clauses and legally-binding agreements. Perhaps Fabregas really wants to join the Catalan side, perhaps he can hide his longing no more. But has Barcelona in its obsession to see itself reunited with an academy product, crossed the thin red line between interest and self-interest? Is Arsenal fighting a game that it will inevitably lose? Will Wenger blink as Guardiola and his men crank up the pressure, through the media? Will the Spanish side’s chorus of protests lead into a crescendo of cheers, or will Arsenal stand firm and deal the defending European champions their first ‘loss’ of the season?

Joining us to debate these questions are a couple of FC Barcelona fans, and 2 of their Arsenal counterparts. Two resident authors from TheHardTackle stable, and two guest authors enter the courtroom to fight for their sides, and make their case… to you.

In my capacity as moderator, I present to you the topic to be debated –

“Barcelona Has Crossed The Line In The Cesc Fabregas Saga”


Cesc Fabregas

“The 21st century equivalent of Helen of Troy” (c)Arsbiswas


Anustup Sikdar – Against The Motion.
Barcelona fan, who believes Barcelona have played by the rules, while Arsenal have obstructed the path of justice.

This is perhaps the most overdone piece of transfer speculation that’s been doing the round for quite some time now. After the frustration of the Gaspart-era, Joan Laporta took over the mantle of the Barca president and ever since the club has had an upward curve, with the exception of a couple bad seasons in the middle. With the arrival of Ronaldinho and other exceptionally skilled individuals, Barca started gaining the ground that they had lost. Everything wasn’t rosy. La Masia lost a jewel in Cesc Fabregas, who couldn’t be offered a professional contract due to age factor and the promise to feature regularly for the first team. The latter was understandable because the Catalan club had reached the nadir and needed established players to take them where they belong. Cesc’s inexperience at the top level wouldn’t have helped the cause!

Fabregas left for Arsenal and without surprise, developed into one of the finest young players in the world. However, continued failure on the club’s part has quite understandably exasperated the young midfield general and being a World Cup and Euro winner himself, it must’ve been even more difficult for him to go trophy less, year after year. It’s absolutely plausible for him to ask for a move back to his previous club – FC Barcelona, who are perhaps the best team on the planet at present. A move to Barca will not only guarantee Cesc the trophies he covets, but will also etch his name in golden letters in history books as one of the members of one of the finest teams of all times. However, there has been encumbrance in the form of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. The latter now faces the predicament of losing the crux of his team, due to lack of silverware, and letting go Cesc would just spell disaster for them as Arsenal would practically enter a limbo. Despite Cesc’s insistence on moving back to Barca, the club has not regarded his desire and is practically fighting Barcelona tooth and nail to keep Cesc on their payroll.

Did Cesc speak of his desire to make a move? Yes

Did FC Barcelona offer a decent sum (given the fact that he’s become quite injury-prone of late)? Yes

The problem lies in the fact that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger do not foresee a glorious future in the wake of a major exodus and with the departure of Cesc, even a top four spot would become dicey as the likes of Villa, City and Spurs are catching up too fast!

If Arsenal is waiting for Cesc to put up a Transfer Request, then the days are numbered as it’s quite uncertain that Cesc would be willing to undergo the ignominy of yet another trophy less season at the Emirates.

Fabregas Messi Pique

Those were the days

Jayant Srivastava – Against The Motion.
Barcelona fan who understands Arsenal’s unwillingness to part with their captain, acknowledges his side have gone overboard at times and holds Fabregas responsible.

The Cesc Fabregas saga grinds along with no signs of ending. All parties involved in the long running soap opera have seen their images take a hit with no imminent solution in sight. From the outset, the situation has been mishandled and those involved, Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona and Cesc Fabregas himself, are all to blame for the current stalemate.

Barcelona’s pursuit of Fabregas, having resorted to media outlets as a channel to woo Cesc, has left the club with a bad image and many claiming that Barcelona’s approach is bordering on tapping up. While it is certainly not close to tapping Cesc up, it is still an approach that shouldn’t have been used. Barcelona’s obsession, or should I say the obsession of a few at the club, has led to probably the most irritating transfer saga for both sets of fans. For me, the reason behind this has more to do with the fact that Fabregas is considered ‘one of our own’, born and brought up supporting Barcelona and having played with or idolized many of the current Barcelona players. This emotional attachment between the club and the player has resulted in a lot more words being spoken than usual. That said, I think the current board has tried to steer the ship in the right direction, having approached Arsenal with a concrete offer for Fabregas. The players though are a completely different matter and I believe it is time Pep or someone at the club asks them to stop giving the media sound bites to twist as they please. While the players concern for Cesc might be genuine, all the media is concerned about is a good story.

The second point and, in my opinion, the most crucial factor in this saga – Francesc Fabregas. While both clubs have blamed each other, the role of Fabregas can’t be ignored. He is the biggest culprit in a drama that has dragged on for far too long. Fabregas left of his own accord at a time when Barcelona was going through a lean period and Arsenal was looking like achieving great things. Cules have moved on and nobody blames Cesc for the decision to move to greener pastures. This does not mean however that Cesc can expect Barcelona to bend over now that the tables have been turned and he wants to come back ‘home’. Why should Barcelona pay through the nose for his ‘suffering’ especially since we don’t even need him? Alexis Sanchez, another player with whom Barcelona have been heavily linked this summer, has come out and openly stated that he wants to play for Barcelona and Sanchez doesn’t even have any emotional attachment to Barcelona. If Cesc is so eager to head back home, he should to do the same and submit a transfer request. It is irritating to see the club and players like Xavi and Pique doing all the dirty work while Cesc keeps mum and lets them take the hits. I agree with Wilshere when he said that Cesc Fabregas needs to man up. It’s about time he did.

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have played their part as well in this fiasco but I’ll let the knowledgeable Arsenal fans elaborate on that.


Femi Togun – For The Motion .
A London-based Arsenal fan since 1989, who finds Barcelona’s unwillingness to meet his side’s valuation offensive, and faults the English media for not taking a moral stand.

Players come and go, for both Barcelona and Arsenal. We have seen plenty of Arsenal stars make the trip to the Camp Nou. Usually with no animosity BUT for the last 2 pursuits of Arsenal captains it has been relentless and upsetting to the Arsenal fans. Cesc Fabregas is more than just another midfielder to Arsenal he is a symbol of what has been built since the move from Highbury to the Emirates’.

The Spanish media act like Arsenal have to do the right things by letting Cesc go for a price that suits Barcelona. The manager of the Catalan club claims that if push came to shove the need for a striker is greater than a midfielder, last time I checked Cesc is not a striker. Barcelona claim they are willing to wait until August 31st to get their man, forgetting that in this time Arsenal have a Champions league qualifier in which both Samir Nasri & Robin van Persie are suspended so we Arsenal should then leave out their captain and most influential player because he will not be focused on the task ahead.

To even suggest that they are willing to wait until next summer to ‘get their man’ is more disrespectful to Arsenal fans all over the world who have grown increasingly frustrated about this subject. Barcelona are destabilising the relationship between the player and fans, some fans even turning on the player for not speaking out publically.

The English media have reported on this topic so much they now just want it to come true so they can say to Arsenal fans ‘told you he wanted to leave’. The English media who are so bent on being proved right they are forgetting that English football will lose one of the current and future stars of WORLD football. Cesc at the age of 24 is not even at his peak and for Sandro Rossell to suggest that he is worth less than Arsenal £45m valuation is disrespectful to both the player and the manager who has nurtured his raw talent since the age of 16.

One would have to ask Barcelona, what is going to happen when Manchester City with all the money in the world come chasing one of your star players and do it in a relentless and disrespectful way, are you going to tell us all that you’re “more than just a club”?

Cesc Fabregas BarcelonaThe right way?

Sounak Mukherjee – For The Motion.
Arsenal fan who is fuming at the way his club has been dragged into a fiasco, he squarely blames Barcelona for.

The clock is ticking, they say. It is inevitable, they insist.

Arsenal’s fulcrum, Cesc Fabregas is to Arsenal what Achilles was to the Greeks in the Trojan War. Barcelona may see him as a modern day avatar of Helen of Troy, but theirs is an approach that has done away with any sense of ethics.  His paramount importance to our team lies in the fact that the entire team’s structure can change based on his availability this season. His unparalleled vision in the league (2.83 games per assists) makes him one of the most exciting midfielder in modern times. The reason for Cesc being pursued by these ‘aliens’ is simply because he is too good to resist.

Here are some of the specifics that needs to be understood –

– Cesc is a player of Arsenal FC, employed by the club, under a contract that expires only on the 30th of June, 2015.

– Cesc is adored by the fans of this club and respected by players around him in the team.

– The manager considers him an integral part of his plans, essentially the “nucleus” of the team.

– Cesc is just 24 years old and is the captain of a huge football club in perfect harmony with its finances.

Now, if we take a look at the ‘aliens’ and the method they have employed to hunt down their prodigal son, we would know exactly why it is the best decision for Cesc to stay at a club, where he is valued. Throughout this transfer window, we have heard voices from the self-proclaimed best football team on this planet reflect a despicable strategy employed by the Catalan Club to bring back their beloved academy product – Cesc Fabregas. There has been talk about DNA that would CSI to shame, kidnapping possibilities that would make Somali pirates blush, the concept of Cesc ‘suffering’ at the club ignoring the millions he’s made, along with the campaigns of “Free Cesc” that sound like they were hatched in the Arab Spring. All this points to one single conclusion – They think Cesc is a joke.

Otherwise, why would they make an offer of 27 Million Pounds (25th June, 2011, First Bid) for the most effective midfielder in the planet (for the last five years)? Why can’t they just show us the money that our captain deserves and respectfully carry out a sane transaction? Why can’t they just “man up” and say that they cannot afford our leader and keep their pie-holes zipped at least for the time-being?

Well, they wouldn’t do that! That is exactly why; they have made a statement that the pursuit would carry on till the 31st of August, which clearly indicates their intent and understanding of this situation. Barcelona, however fantastic a football side they are on the pitch, are the worst examples of ugly attitude off of it. It is just disheartening that Arsenal with their polite culture of quietly-handled football transfers need to get involved with something this dreadful. They would ideally want the saga to end with the following two possibilities and there is no middle game to it –

1) Pay 45 Million Pounds, the actual value of the most prolific midfielder of our times and “take back” Cesc Fabregas to Camp Nou.

2) Show some respect to a top football club (who incidentally let you use their training camp a few weeks back) if you are not willing to pay the right amount for your beloved son.

Moderator’s Note

All comments are moderated and offensive content will be deleted by the moderator without prior warning. We encourage critical thinking and questioning, but please don’t let your anonymity on the Internet get the better of you.

We welcome you to join the debate, and speak your heart out


The Moderator’s Closing Remarks


The debate is over. And the “Ayes” have it. Our debaters went hammer and tongs at each other’s positions, but the proceedings soon ground to a stalemate. That’s when we opened the floor to you, our readers, to see if you could do better. Not only did you help bring the debate to a conclusion, you did so emphatically. Two out of every three readers concurred with the debate motion that Barcelona had crossed an ethical line with their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas. Those who believed in Barcelona may have been a minority, but they sure are a spirited bunch, fighting what proved in this poll to be a valiant but losing cause. Arsenal supporters seemed to have gained the sympathy of neutral observers who felt, despite whatever misgivings they may have about the Gunners, Wenger was right this time.

The poll, while not scientific, should be cause for worry to Barcelona and their fans because it would indicate an erosion of the goodwill they’ve enjoyed after a legendary victory in the finals of last season’s European Champions League. Barcelona may feel strongly about their claims on Fabregas, and may even deserve to be reunited with their long lost son. It’s worth noting that while you, our readers, have been non-comittal about whether Fabregas belongs at Barcelona (I’m inclined to think you agree), you have been crystal clear about your feelings about the manner in which the Catalans have gone about this business.

It goes without saying Arsenal will be wishing for karma to work its surprise on their captain’s pursuers, while Barcelona will do well to look over their shoulder. At the end of the day, Barcelona remain the defending European Champions, even if they may have lost this particular battle for our hearts and minds. Perhaps Barcelona would rather get their man, than be voted prom king. Perhaps the top of the mountain is cold, but the view more than compensates for it.

Have Barcelona in their relentless crusade squandered a brilliant opportunity to become the most popular club in the world? You seemed to think they did. Thank you all for participating! We look forward to hearing from you all, again.