Cesc, even if you do leave, stranger things have happened!
Remember this news?
I had kept a distance from pessimists who believed Henry was off to Barcelona so much that even when Sky Sports convincingly reported the Frenchman was completing his medical in Spain, I was still adamant – once there had been no official declaration from Arsenal – Henry was going nowhere.
How wrong could I be, especially during that morning of June 23, 2007 when I woke up to come across a headline reading: “Club statement – Transfer of Thierry Henry” on the club’s official site.
I will never forget that day.
Why and how did I even become an Arsenal fan? Thierry Henry. My favourite Arsenal player? Thierry Henry. Who I thought was Arsenal’s most loyal servant? Captain Thierry Henry.
This man simply epitomized the club. And you will probably attest that he still does. You never contemplate the prospect of such idols departing a club. Henry was to Arsenal what Gerrard is to Liverpool, what Lampard is to Chelsea, and most recently, what Messi is to Barcelona.
It was not just a ‘club and best player’ relationship but in truth, a ‘club and it’s symbol’ bond. When you think of those teams, you think of those players. When you thought of Arsenal, you thought of Thierry Henry.
But even he said goodbye.
Despite kissing the Arsenal badge so many times. Despite bowing at the Arsenal faithful so many times in goal celebrations. And more ironically, despite declining a lucrative offer from Barcelona after the 2006 Champions League final to sign a new contract and vow “I am Arsenal for life”.
It was a sucker-punch in terms of loyalty, but Thierry Henry had been so imperial in his eight-year stay at Arsenal that you could not dare be ungrateful and deny him the liberty of making a desired transfer switch.
Even so, you just could not swallow the fact that ‘Mr. Arsenal’ had just left the club. And in my personal experience during the aftermath of Henry’s 2007 exit, I recall visiting ‘arsenal.com’ to check and refresh pages to see if the club was actually still in business, if the club had not come to an end and if Henry’s departure, preceded by David Dein’s, was not spelling a mass exodus at Arsenal FC.
All these are flashbacks I have had today amid realization that Cesc Fabregas could well be heading to Barcelona.
Like my approach towards speculation over Henry’s exit three years ago, some fans are still reiterating that Arsenal’s skipper is going nowhere. But unlike Henry, an eventual exit of Cesc Fabregas had always been an inevitability to any rational or knowledgeable fan.
Players of Iberian routes (Portuguse, Spanish) often crave the experience of playing for either Real Madird or Barcelona from infancy anyway.
And with Fabregas being a full-blooded native of Catalonia, it will be a blatant lie to claim he did not grow up a Barca admirer at least. Cesc as well all know, was more than a Barca admirer. A former youth player in fact, and as this video suggests, a Camp Nou-bound soul.
Another factor unlike that of Henry’s case, is the likelihood that Cesc Fabregas – no matter how much he writes his name in Arsenal history – may NOT retire as an Arsenal player.
The time when he waves farewell for a return to Spain would come one day. And as Arsenal’s growing lack of success coincided with Fabregas’ blossoming reputation, that day had being coming.
It could be this summer, next summer or that of 2014. But, that day will definitely not be the first time we had witnessed an iconic player leave this club (for Barcelona).
And with all due respect to the outstanding Fabregas, even the greatest man to ever wear an Arsenal shirt, Thierry Henry, did inflict the woe of jumping ship to Barcelona on us, so stranger things have indeed happened before.
And trust me, Arsenal surely WILL move on like we always do.
Whether through the aid of Yaya Toure or even Ibrahimovic’s part-deal arrival, a direct replacement, or even the emergence of a new ace in Arsenal’s own ranks, will be talked about later.
But Arsenal definitely will move on if that day does come soon as suspected.