By Avenell Dave
For the past three seasons, Cesc Fabregas has been Arsenal’s most consistent and exciting player.
We may have gone on a long unbeaten run without him last season, but there is no doubt that creatively, Cesc has no peers at the club.
But it’s clear for all to see that something is troubling our young captain and it doesn’t bode well.
For those of you who don’t watch the team week in, week out, there is something about Cesc's body language, his demeanour that suggests he is troubled.
He may not have been so unsubtle as Manu Adebayor, but the fact remains, Cesc did mention what a hero Barca coach Pep Guardiola is to him during the summer.
And who can blame him when the side he supported as a child and won all before them last season makes soundings that they would like to have him back?
However passionate we all are about Arsenal, however hopeful we are that this season can bring us glory, we have to accept that, especially for players not brought up in North London or thereabouts, the blood coursing through their veins is not totally Arsenal red.
Cesc is one of the outstanding players of his generation and while he watches Barca win everything and Real Madrid sign every superstar in sight, it must be disheartening facing the prospect of being one of the oldest players in his squad when he’s only 22.
I double-checked his age on the Arsenal website, and was intrigued by the following paragraph about Wenger’s formation change: “Arsène Wenger’s decision to adopt a 4-3-3 formation is designed to liberate Cesc, allowing him the freedom to finish off moves as well as initiate them. The Spaniard is likely to take full advantage of that tactical switch.” That's how highly Wenger rates him and rightly so.
Whether rumours we heard here at Addict about how close Cesc came to leave us last summer are true or not, talk of this being his last season in Arsenal colours doesn’t seem to be far from Gooners’ lips in the pubs before matches.
Of course, one could argue that with so many quality players at Barca and Real, Cesc would be mad to leave and fight for his place at clubs where he would be a small fish in a big pond instead of being first choice and captain as he is in N5.
There is another aspect to this argument of course.
Cesc played a long way into the summers of 2008 and 2009 and is undoubtedly tired, having not had an extended break apart from during his injury last season, when rehabilitation rather than recuperation was his priority.
So while the signs look worrying for Cesc remaining beyond this season, lets hope a sustained title challenge and a look at his mates Alex Hleb and Mathieu Flamini reminds him that the grass is rarely greener away from Arsenal.