By Woolwich Brooks
In recent weeks, along with the reality of a sixth season without silverware, several quarters, often the most frustratingly vocal ones, have been calling for the head, or at least the P45, of Arsene Wenger.
In equal measure have been voices, some to be heard ringing from this site, that quite rightly argue against those with an anti-Wenger agenda and make a case for the continuing support of the man that has done, is doing and most likely will continue to do such a remarkable job for our club in the future.
Maintaining a slightly lower profile than those calls for Wenger to leave following this season’s disappointments, are the calls suggesting now would be an excellent time to off-load Cesc.
Even though we may get less for him than the heady figures of £45m mentioned last summer, his disappointing season, (in particular following the Carling Cup final defeat), suggest he may not be the be-all-and-end-all we occasionally claim him to be, so selling him might be a wise move.
After all, we would still get a pretty penny that could go toward filling the obvious holes we have in both the centre-half and striker positions, not to mention the fact that Jack Wilshere has proved himself capable of filling any Cesc shaped hole we might be left with in the Spaniards absence.
Some fans have even been saying that the fact that The Sun had a story earlier this week linking Cesc with a move back to Barca 'must be true cos Cesc writes for the Sun'.
It is also true that, unlike his predecessors as captain, his age has betrayed in him a certain lack of leadership skills much needed at this point in our team’s development. The irony is that what Project Youth really needs in order to succeed is a leader who isn’t part of the Project himself.
The problem with this logic, that of getting rid of Cesc, or at least sending him back to Barca without the massive fight we put up last year, is similar to the problem with calls for Wenger’s resignation: it is short-sighted, pure-and-simple.
If Cesc were allowed to leave, I have no doubt we could put the funds we receive for him to great use with immediate reward. But whatever we would be gaining at the price we charge for Cesc, would ultimately be at the expense of what he might become for us in the future.
And I say ‘what he might become for us in the future’ with a straight face.
Wenger’s Project Youth is, by definition, a long-term project, and what greater long-term project is there than the cultivation of an Arsenal-made captain?
True, he may not be the authority, the leader that our team had in Tony Adams or Vieira, not at the age of 23 at least, but Arsenal are a different team from what we were then.
Even Adams, despite being an obvious leader at a young age, took time to develop in other aspects of his role and his game.
Both teams, of course, aspired and aspire to the same achievements, but when it comes to the make-up of the team, there are big differences; hence Wenger’s regular point concerning the youth of the team. It means something for prospects in the future.
To let a young figure like Cesc go without a fight on either the basis of a relatively brief slump in performance or what we could get for him now would be to totally miss the point of a philosophy of developing footballers based on long-term reward over short-term gain.
Even if that long-term is more than six seasons.