Cesc Fabregas' fairytale return to his boyhood club has come to an abrupt end, with the news that Barcelona have agreed a £26.6 million fee with Chelsea.
Another renewal was dashed, when Arsenal turned down the option to buy Fabregas back, leaving the Spain midfielder free to join Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
In truth, Fabregas' move back to Barcelona, the club he first joined as a 10-year-old, was borne out of ego and showmanship, rather than a pressing need for the player, from a purely football perspective.
Sandro Rosell, keen to make an impression at the club, since taking up the reigns of presidency in 2010, was eager to make a splash in the transfer market. His first season had seen the signings of the functional yet uninspiring duo of Adriano, from Sevilla, and Javier Mascherano, from Liverpool. Fabregas, with his background in La Masia and Catalan heritage, therefore provided an ideal marquee signing.
At the time, Barcelona had Xavi and Andrés Iniesta in their prime, whilst the mercurially talented Thiago Alcântara was threatening to break through as a regular first-team member. Further forward, Lionel Messi, David Villa and Alexis Sanchez, Rosell's other major signing in 2011, all occupied the space Fabregas looked to manipulate, when played as a "false-nine".
This is not to say his first season at the Camp Nou wasn't a success, as Barcelona won every title available, apart from the Champions League. Fabregas started more league games than Iniesta, scoring nine goals in the process.
The problem for Fabregas was that he was rarely considered a key player during his second spell at Barcelona, in the same way his midfield counterparts Iniesta and Xavi were. Despite his incredible talent, he couldn't pass like Xavi, or ghost past opponents like Iniesta, and was often shoehorned into positions, rather than owning one.
Tata Martino briefly gave Fabregas a key role in central midfield, but as Martino's critics grew louder, so did Cesc's, although the booing he received at points last season was undeserved. So used to being the central figure at Arsenal, he found it difficult to adapt to this secondary role at Barça, and it ultimately proved his downfall.
People will rightly ask if he's made the same mistake joining Chelsea. He will have to compete with Ramires and Marco van Ginkel for a place beside Nemanja Matic in the deeper midfield roles, whilst the attacking midfield role is currently occupied by Oscar.
What is different this time around is that, in Mourinho, he has a manager that will build the team around him. At times last season Mourinho didn't trust Oscar, and his form towards the end of the campaign was far from inspiring.
In the number ten role, Fabregas can once again shine, and could prove to be the piece of magic that ignites the Chelsea squad, who were over-reliant on Eden Hazard for moments of brilliance last season.
With his fellow Spanish team-mate Diego Costa soon to link up with the squad, Chelsea are beginning to look like a very intimidating outfit, and the pressure will be on to deliver both domestic and European honours next season.
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