Cesc Fabregas is looking increasingly likely to stay put at underachieving Arsenal, and for whatever reason, foregoing silverware opportunities at Barcelona which presently seem to be greater than those with the North London club. Undoubtedly this is good news for those of a red and white disposition, as Fabregas (still with his best playing years ahead) is an indomitable rock in the young Arsenal team who are in it for the long term haul.
So how can (what many fans consider to be) the greatest club in the world ensure that they rule Europe with an iron fist for years to come? The answer is not so obvious when others are already spoken for with the bigger clubs, but peer further down the league tables of Italy, Spain and England, and the answer becomes blindingly obvious – why splash the cash, when there’s proven talent for a much lower price?
Everton’s most creative player, Mikel Arteta then comes into the sights of the elite. Now a family man approaching thirty, Arteta has always expressed a desire to “one day” return to his homeland, and that day may be coming much sooner than expected. Everton are completely skint and no mistake; their summer spending is over, and without firstly sacrificing one of their better players, will be unable to buy any other players in this window – and probably the next.
Manager David Moyes has already given up on American midfielder Landon Donovan if this transfer market impasse continues, and despite the American (who played with great distinction in the new year) expressing a desire to return to Goodison, everyone has their price.
Much has been made of why Arteta should desire a move sooner rather than later; tasteless reasons have been previously touted by various hacks – but there can be no ignoring a much believed transfer request. Although this news is now a month old, Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola (having now been denied Fabregas’ services) will be rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of signing such a proven talent.
Arteta is particularly good at set pieces, and has chalked up impressive free-kick goals over the years against Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Hull City, and also shows an impressive level of trickery (by dogged Everton standards) on the pitch when it matters most.
Although Barcelona is only a mere possibility given the sheer height of competition for first team starting spots, a move away from Everton now seems inevitable. The good news is that the Toffees have shown an ability to bounce back from such losses (Wayne Rooney in 2004 for example). Ultimately, with the right approach to negotiations (i.e. not dragging them on as in the Joleon Lescott saga), a good profit could be made from Arteta, by which token signing Donovan would be possible, as well as looking at effective back up for Leighton Baines.
Arteta is not the one man team Rooney was, and there will be some very frustrating football being played without the Spaniard’s influence, but simultaneously there are signs that the rest of the team can muck in together and cement Everton in Europa League respectability – fourth place, glories and silverware seem as distant as ever with or without Arteta.
Those who believe that the “24-year rule” will be maintained in 2011 really need a reality check too – the Premiership title belongs to Chelsea, and nobody else.
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