1405: Lionel Messi believes Cesc Fabregas is likely to join him at Barcelona before the summer is out. “I hope that the matter can be resolved soon and I’m confident that in the end it will be resolved in the way that Cesc can be a Barcelona player,” the Argentine told Spanish TV station Cuatro.
Taken from the BBC Sport website, this is just the latest in a long line of similar quotes from Barcelona players, as they discuss the future of a player currently under a five-year contract at another club.
Now there’s little doubt that Fabregas is sorely tempted to rejoin the side he played for as a boy, but equally, he’s reluctant to leave the team where he has blossomed as a footballer; a club where he’s respected by his peers and manager, and adored by fans.
But whether he wants to leave or not is a moot point. He has five years of his contract remaining. Barcelona have not met Arsenal’s asking price for the player. Arsenal do not need to let arguably their best player leave. Yet the way Barcelona have been talking, it is as if Fabregas has been imprisoned by Arsenal; held back from his true calling. Barca’s players claim Cesc is “made up of Barcelona DNA”, that he dreams of moving to Barca, even that he is being held against his will. It’s surely not long before the Catalan club claims Fabregas’ contract is a violation of his human rights. And, lest we forget the cringe-inducing moment where the jubilatory Spanish team pulled a Barcelona shirt over the protesting player’s head after their World Cup victory.
All of which amounts to perhaps the most shameless and embarrassing case of tapping up ever seen in European football. It’s an offence which has seen Chelsea punished by FIFA for inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens. Yet there’s no sign of anyone having a word with Barcelona for their disgraceful behaviour. Sure, Fabregas hasn’t broken his contract, so the club could argue that it hasn’t committed an offence. But has it unsettled the player? Undoubtedly.
Barcelona play some truly beautiful football, but this arrogance – the behaviour of a side that clearly thinks it is untouchable – is decidedly ugly.