Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas finds himself in a bit of a strange situation at the moment.
He’s at the club that he loves with all his heart, the club he grew up at alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique. But it’s beginning to feel like the expectant Barca faithful - people from Catalonia, just like himself - wouldn’t be at all fussed if he left the Camp Nou this summer.
Despite being one of their own, Fabregas hasn’t won the hearts and minds of the Barcelona supporters since re-joining his boyhood club in 2011. And now, not for the first time, the 26-year-old is seriously considering his options.
Manchester United and Arsenal, who have first refusal on the Spain international, were put on red alert when Fabregas was recently jeered by his own fans in a La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao. Both clubs knew he was feeling unsettled at the Camp Nou last summer, but this latest development gives them real hope of bringing the versatile midfielder back to the Premier League.
Fabregas is a wonderful midfielder - one of the world’s best - complete with a CV to rival any other 26-year-old’s in world football. And there’s no doubt his presence would significantly improve the squads of either Manchester United or Arsenal if Barcelona agreed to sell, which they reportedly will, this summer.
But instead of re-joining Arsenal, Fabregas must make the decision to team up with his old pal Robin van Persie and become one of the leading figures in the Red Devils’ return to greatness.
He was keen to move to Old Trafford last summer but couldn’t bring himself to disappoint the Barcelona fans by announcing his desire to leave the club he has always supported. But just look where that loyalty has got him this season. So much for gratitude.
Of course, by joining United he wouldn’t just be running the risk of alienating himself from the Barcelona faithful. The Arsenal supporters wouldn’t be overly impressed, either - particularly if it does prove to be a straight battle between the reigning Premier League champions and the Gunners for the £25m-rated star’s signature.
In fact, they’d be downright furious. They still have a deep mutual respect for Cesc, but the World Cup winner owes it to himself to join the club with a more realistic chance of winning major trophies over the forthcoming seasons.
Make no mistake: Manchester United will not stay out of the top four and, subsequently, the Champions League for long.
Get it right this summer and there’s every chance they will return to Europe’s premier club competition in time for the 2015/16 campaign - quite possibly at Arsenal’s expense.
Fabregas won one trophy during his eight-year spell with Arsenal. Opting to spend the best years of his career back at the Emirates Stadium is a risk not worth taking.