POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 13: Cesc Fabregas of Spain looks on after a press conference on June 13, 2010 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
If you have been a part of this community for any length of time, you will have probably noticed a distinct lack of one particular type of commentary here: anything at all to do with the Cesc Fabregas "saga", or "story", or "journalism" thereof. This has been a long-standing personal policy of mine, one which has probably cost me approximately one kerflillion page views, but one all the same, because, at heart, the saga is an INVENTION* (in both the creation of something new sense and the musical sense of that word).
The theme that kicks this invention off is clear. It is obviously no secret that Cesc wants to return to Barcelona someday. He has said so himself on occasion. He is from Catalonia. This is known. However, he is under contract with Arsenal through the 2014-2015 season, which is a decision that he made willingly. Without getting into what contracts actually mean these days, one cannot dispute that this essentially gives all of the power to Arsenal in this situation.
The variations and "developments" around this story, though, sadly lack any of the punch of the original theme. There has actually been no change of merit in the story for two summers now: the basic pieces, as always, remain:
1) Cesc will someday return to Spain.
2) Barcelona squad members and supporters believe he is essentially Barcelona and hence displaced, despite having spent the majority of his playing career at Arsenal.
3) Arsenal would like a serious bid, proffered through the correct channel, i.e., the club itself.
4) Barcelona don't really have the funds for number 3.
5) Cesc is not their top target, which doesn't jibe well with number 2.
While number 1 is no doubt true, the endless vamping of numbers 2-5 is a media creation. As OleGunner put it to the BBC on Twitter in response to their question "Will it ever end?": "It's you media morons. Nothing has changed in Cesc to Barca story in 5 yrs".
The football media have become a postmodern Cesc echo chamber, forging the endless chain of speculation while simultaneously mocking it. This should come as no surprise, since the field of journalism has, at its core for 150 years, been about selling papers**. (That this very blog post is going to join the wide, slow river of Cesc stories flowing gently, inexorably toward the sea, whether I like it or not, certainly does bother me. One time only). The existence of twitter, which leads to more and more stories without source and rumors without basis, has culminated in this ludicrous exchange today:
Employees of the Arsenal club shop have been told NOT to accept orders with Fabregas' name on the back via @harryafc
Peeps #Arsenal they were told NOT to print a shirt for cesc FOR SATURDAYS GAME!!!!! Read it properly!!!!
Jamie Dalton is a journalist with over 8,200 followers on twitter. We all know how avalanches start. We all know how twitter works. But the basis of journalism, credibility, is simply stretched/broken with tweets like this. There is no authority to this, no track record of years and years of being right about things, no naming of "anonymous sources", even. There is simply no reason to believe it or anything else appearing on the websites of famous broadsheets and tabloids.
The situation is clear. Arseblog has coined a brilliant phrase for it. Arsenal has set a price for Cesc Fabregas. Barcelona either matches it, or they don't. If they don't, they will not get him. It's that simple. There is no reason to report or say another single word (Xavi) about it as if it is anything new, until there is sourced, bedrock testimony that something has shifted in that stance. The rest is just staving off the boredom of summer.
The main reason I have not written anything here is because I firmly believe all of this. If I thought something new had honestly developed in the story since, oh, last May (it hasn't), then I would probably write something. Until then, it'll be kept to a minimum, and when brought up, will be in the interest of analyzing Arsenal's current long-term or tactical situation at its heart. I also don't see this blog's role, or my role, as weighing the relative character of clubs; it's far too large of a subject to get into here. Suffice it to say that no club in a top league is pure, virginal white from my perspective.
I just want the matches to start, dammit.
* "7. [music] a short piece consisting of two or three parts usually in imitative counterpoint"; from
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 20 Jul. 2011.
** One man's opinion. Indulge me.