By Avenell Dave
I woke up this morning to the inevitable news that Cesc Fabregas is a Barcelona player.
Short of them discovering that his hamstrings really are shot to pieces, he'll be presented at some time today. It brings to an end the most turgid, wretched transfer saga in history and it's fair to say Arsenal have many reasons to be bitter about it.
Our captain is leaving, without doubt one of the best players to put on the Arsenal shirt, and you have to hope we have someone lined up to provide some midfield creativity that was sorely lacking on Saturday.
There are many who say he cannot be considered a legend because he didn't win trophies with us, but that's missing the point. Without him, I'm sure we would not have managed as many top four finishes as we have in recent years.
I recall when Patrick Vieira left Arsenal for Juventus and the media harped on about our inability to replace him. Some would say we never have. But that great night at Highbury when we brushed Juve aside and Cesc had a stormer, making Paddy look like a crocked has-been, underlined his potential.
There have been so many great moments - Milan away, Bolton away when we were 2-0 down, T*tt*nh*m at home and countless others. He has time on the ball that few others enjoy and we will miss him greatly.
Some have suggested this morning that he would have stayed if we had been winning trophies. Many of the same suggest the lure of going home became too great and when you add that to the fact that Barca are the best team in the world, I can fully understand why Cesc wanted to return.
I don't think us winning trophies would have made any difference.
We can lambast him for contributing to the agitation for the move, for saying he would only return to Barca because that's the only club he wanted to join. But the fact is that Barca played hard, dirty business and battered Arsenal to an untenable position where we have accepted a fee far less than his true value leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
They play pretty football and their coach is a gent but some of the players, the whining and play acting takes the sheen off them. They lack class.
We can lament not playing hardball ourselves or concluding a deal while there was still time to bring someone in and start the process of integration but what good does it do now? We need to look forward.
We need to convince ourselves and the sniping media that Cesc was not irreplaceable and we need to do it fast.
People have talked about RvP being made captain and I'm sure that is what will happen. The best player seems to take the mantle rather than the best leader, although Thomas Vermaelen has also been mentioned.
But for me the only person who Arsene Wenger should be looking at as captain is Jack Wilshere. Just as Cesc had 'Barca DNA' so Jack is a Gooner through and through. He has the fight, the desire and the talent to be Arsenal captain for a very long time and just as Tony Adams was made captain at a young age, so too should Jack.
These are tough times for Arsenal fans, no doubt, but whoever comes or goes, there will always be an Arsenal.
Thanks for the memories Cesc. The king is dead, long live the king!