It is often said within football that you should never return to an old club, and the adage has proved unerringly correct with Francesc Fabregas, who looks set to leave Barcelona for a second time, having re-joined the club in 2011.
Whilst the 66-time Spanish international has extended his previously bleak trophy haul at the Camp Nou, he has failed to make the impact expected, and only started twenty-eight games this season, often played out of position as a false-nine, or right winger.
At the age of 27, Fabregas is in the prime of his career, but to avoid leaving any lingering doubts over his standing on the game once he retires, he must chose his next move wisely. Chelsea and Manchester United are the clear frontrunners for the Barça man, with Arsenal having opted out of the running for their former captain.
Chelsea look best placed to sign Fabregas, with a £30million transfer-fee mooted for his services. Barcelona would therefore recoup almost all of the £35million they paid to bring him from Arsenal in 2011.
Fabregas would be an instant replacement for Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, slotting into the attacking midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The move would potentially signal the end of Oscar's time at Chelsea, unless Mourinho decides to play Fabregas deeper, alongside Nemanja Matic, and drop Ramires. Having scored at least fifteen goals a season since 2009, Fabregas would be vital in replacing Lampard's goalscoring attributes.
His other option, United, are less appealing given they won't be playing Champions League football for at least another season. The arrival of Louis van Gaal should make the Red Devils more competitive in the league, and creativity from central-midfield is certainly an area the Dutchman will look to improve on. Whether Fabregas is willing to miss out on top European football for a year remains to be seen.
Football is an cruel game, and the plight of Fabregas attains to this. Few would have betted against the former La Masia graduate replacing Xavi as Barça's long-term creator in chief, but it hasn't worked out that way.
He must now chose wisely, or risk leading a career as somewhat of a nearly man, always at the top, but never at the focal point of success.
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