Next season the unthinkable will inevitably happen: Arsenal fans will boo Cesc Fabregas when he makes his first appearance at the Emirates Stadium as a Chelsea player. How do we know this will happen? Well, ask any of your Arsenal-supporting mates what they think about the prospect of their former hero signing for Jose Mourinho’s side this summer. They’ll soon make their feelings crystal clear.
Failing that, take a look at any of the major social networking sites - such as Twitter - and type in ‘Fabregas’ followed by any insult you can think of. They’ve all been tweeted over the past 48 hours.
Fabregas’s name is set to join the likes of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Adebayor - players who have all, in the eyes of the Gunners’ faithful, scorned them by walking out of the club in recent years. Bacary Sagna, somewhat bizarrely, is exempt from criticism despite leaving the north London outfit in order to sign a better deal with the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. No, we’re not sure why either.
But before next season’s first meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea, the Gunners faithful must find it within themselves to consider the circumstances behind Cesc’s decision to join Chelsea. It can’t have been an easy choice for the 27-year-old, who must feel crushed that his move back to his boyhood club Barcelona hasn’t panned out in the way he dreamed.
Fabregas gave Arsenal eight fantastic years of service and, to their credit, the fans wished him well when he finally decided that the time was right to return to Catalonia in 2011. But the Spain international was left with little choice but to leave the Camp Nou this summer - and when it became clear that Arsene Wenger neither needed nor wanted him back, what else was he meant to do?
Fabregas would have re-joined the Gunners in a heartbeat - but Wenger didn’t have room for him this summer. The Frenchman could have re-signed him for sentimental reasons - not dismissing the fact he remains a world-class midfielder - but the Arsenal boss knows the talent of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can’t be ushered to one side in order to accommodate the Spaniard.
Manchester United would have been an option but Louis van Gaal didn’t fancy him - the Dutchman seems to be trying his hardest to distance himself from any player associated as a David Moyes target - while Liverpool and Manchester City were never real options for the World Cup winner.
Arsenal fans have every right to feel hurt by the sight of Fabregas wearing the Chelsea shirt next season - but remember: it isn’t Cesc’s fault he wasn’t able to make a dream return to the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Sadly, though, Arsenal fans have already made up their minds: Fabregas, in their view, has committed an act of betrayal. And he'll suffer the consequences next season.