In the end it looks like Chelsea have won the race to sign Cesc Fabregas. Linked to a return to Arsenal, linked to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United; the Premier League was Fabregas’ first choice destination.
But should he have considered other options?
Football is in an era where managers move from one league to another, spending a few years
in each league before moving on to the next one. Being “part of a project” as it is referred to. The likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Rafa Benitez are just four managers of the modern-day trend of management. All of this has been done in an occupation that may span over a longer period than a playing career.
Managers have seen the need to embrace a new challenge and move on to the next one. Managers have realised their individual abilities as a manager have become enhanced with the multiple experiences on offer managing in different leagues, encountering different footballing philosophies, cultures and approaches.
Sadly many footballers – such as Fabregas - are less open to exploring the unchartered waters. We have yet to see a footballer openly state a desire to win five or six different European leagues. Footballers are not as eager, not as adventurous.
The alleged-transfer to Chelsea begs the question: should Fabregas have considered playing in a league he had not played in before?
There would have been a few clubs in the Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and even a few teams
in Russia and Ukraine who could have afforded Fabregas – or made transfer arrangements and moves to be in a position to afford the Spanish World Cup winner.
Even the likes of Benfica and Porto – aided by third-party ownership – could have potentially had Fabregas in their side with the third-party ownership rule being legal in Portuguese football.
Fabregas could have gone to Bayern Munich and been a part of a team managed by his boyhood hero Pep Guardiola, and would have naturally fitted back into the tiki-taka style of football developed by the former Barcelona manager.
Fabregas could have gone to Turin and played for Juventus – with possibly Arturo Vidal heading to the Camp Nou in a high-profile trade. Whilst historically Spanish players had often struggled in Serie A, the new breed – who have swept all before them in junior and senior international football – have been making the grade where those before them couldn’t. He could have joined his fellow World Cup winning teammates Fernando Llorente and Raul Albiol in Europe’s most tactically demanding league.
Fabregas could have gone to PSG and joined the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva and Marco Verratti in an attempt to land the Parisian club’s first European crown.
Fabregas could have gone to Monaco and joined the likes of Radamel Falcao, Dimitar Berbatov, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho in challenging PSG for the the Ligue 1 title and the two domestic cup competitions on offer in French football.
French football now has two European forces that have the ability to sign top players and the league is developing into one of the continent's top leagues. Fabregas could have been a part of that.
Eastern European football provides many challenges both on and off the field. A challenge Fabregas could have embraced at Zenit St. Petersburg or Shakhtar Donetsk. He could have been part of a Zenit or Shakhtar side that could have finally conquered Europe.
Fabregas had Europe as his oyster, but has chosen to return to a league he already played in
when he could have proved himself in another league facing a new challenge. A player who once claimed he would never play for an English club that wasn’t Arsenal will do just that next season.
He could have conquered a different footballing style and culture. Instead he will
take the conservative route and head back to the English Premier League.
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