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Bon Voyage Cesc. Forward Arsenal

According to the Kubler-Ross model, there are five key stages to loss. The departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona has been on the cards for a very long time, yet in the last 24 hours, I think I have seen various Gooners sift through each stage as the deal ebbed closer.

Denial- "But he was at training today? And Arsene said nobody`s leaving?"

Anger (the Arsenal fans` favourite over the last two years) - "So what? He was rubbish anyway. Rubbish captain, treated club like dirt. Hope he rots on the bench!"

Bargaining- "Surely we can hold out for £50m? Why not keep him one more year until Wilshere and Ramsey are completely ready?" (I think I was here in about May).

Depression- "I can`t believe he`s really going. I thought I was prepared for this but now it`s here I`m just sad."

Acceptance- This is the plateau I planted my feet on some time ago. Why not come join me? There`s beer and strippers here and everything!

Losing your captain and finest player at the age of 24 is a bitter pill to swallow. (It puts one in mind of another club Legend that left for the continent aged 24 with just one F.A. Cup medal to show for his time at the club). Regardless of how long you`ve been expecting it for. The fact that we`ve lost him for a price that dos not reflect his quality to a club that have, frankly, behaved with appalling disrespect towards Arsenal right until the end (Victor Valdes couldn`t even muster the microscopic amount of respect to keep his mouth shut as the deal entered its final hours) makes it all the harder.

Fabregas himself has been in a position of not being able to please anyone this summer and has chosen, wisely in my opinion, to keep his counsel. Not wanting to upset his prospective and current employers is an impossible task by any other means. In our information obsessed generation, the tactful approach was always still going to upset some. Footballers seldom win in these situations. Luka Modric met his desire to leave Tottenham head on. He was criticised. Cesc Fabregas chose to keep quiet. He was criticised. Samir Nasri was willing to see out his contract and then leave. He was criticised. As far as supporters are concerned, the only correct way to leave a club; is when the club doesn`t really need you anymore and moves you on.

Fabregas was possibly the finest player I`ve seen in an Arsenal shirt. As I`ve said before, dominating central midfield on such a consistent basis is different to a mercurial striker who will have liberty to disappear for 30 minutes at a time before erasing their anonymity from your memories with a single brushstroke of genius. Players such as Keane, Vieira and Cesc don`t have that luxury. Cesc also doesn`t have the physical properties of the former pair. Cesc was a boy in the sharp end of a big man`s territory and came up swinging every single time. Contrary to pithy commentary, he was a leader. It was unfortunate that he wasn`t blessed with a few more lieutenants around him as other more feted Arsenal captains were.

I don`t think there`s any one replacement for Cesc because I happen to think the only two central midfielders in the world that come close to him are now his team mates. I think we will have to look more towards the model United adopted when they sold Ronaldo. That is to say, that his burden will be spread across the team. The manager has clearly looked to add pace and direction to the attacking line up with the acquisitions of Oxlade Chamberlain, Gervinho and the addition of Miyachi, which already suggests a change in emphasis. Arsene will need to mould the team into a new style as opposed to identifying one man to fill a Cesc shaped hole. Fabregas` recent hamstring problems have left us in a quandary because the shape of the team has been built around him so indelibly. We are already blessed enough to have Britain`s two finest young central midfield players already in situ. (Though that`s not to detract from the fact that we need additions, before you all start!)

To lose him is a bitter pill. But no reason to plunge oneself into depression. King Whitney Jnr. had a saying that holds very true. "To the fearful, change is threatening because things might get worse. To the hopeful, it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident, it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better." Players always need to be replaced. Even if Cesc had stayed for another ten years, his legs would have given out and we`d have had to replace him at some point anyway. Such is football and such is life. But one of the true gifts of the game is that it`s cyclical. It always gives us other games, others seasons and other players. We live in a society where the media impresses upon us the absolute permanence of the status quo. But Gooners older than I would always tell you that every irreplaceable player is totally indispensible until the next irreplaceable player comes along. Bon voyage Cesc. Forward Arsenal. LD.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

I'm also being interviewed tomorrow lunchtime on Radio 5 Live's sports show en route to Newcastle. Tune in if you can.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday August 12 2011

Time: 6:23PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Cesc is one of the best players I ever saw in red and white too, not THE best though, despite your very adequate reasoning, I still can't see past Henry or Bergkamp. It's a futile argument though as nothing can be proved, it's all a matter of opinion and they were/are all world class players. I wish Cesc good health and a nice life, I won't wish him good luck though as that would mean wishing that scumbag club of his good luck too. Call me bitter if you want, but in honesty I think Gooners have earned that right.
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12/08/2011 18:55:00

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12/08/2011 18:56:00

I dont care about Nasri but Fabregas will be impossible to replace this season. I am too sad that he is leaving us.
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12/08/2011 18:57:00

An absolutely superb footballer who should have been surrounded by another giant or two of a player... If I cast my mind back to his earlier years with us where he played alongside some of the invincibles, I remember a young man who loved being in the same team as them and drew more out from him and developed him... That was summarised for me by the unforgettable and impudent goal he scored with Henry a few years back at Blackburn and the way Cesc received the ball then half-chipped a return for thierry to slam it in from the D... it's a shame that Arsene never saw fit to give him slightly better quality to play alongside... and that's the crying shame for me... what makes it plain bitter though, is the fact that we had to wait until the season starts for this to play out... sorry but that's not forgettable and it's totally down to the club management, allowing this to fester away in this way... I would not have been so goddamn angry if we had sent Cesc home in June and could spend the summer looking ahead instead of backward... so yes, thanks for everything Cesc, but we've got work to do right now to get ourselves on track, so the last thing I want to hear is a recorded message or video of fond adieus (like I read somewhere!). LD is right, we don't need to replace, we need to re-organise!
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12/08/2011 19:22:00

Problem is Andy, it took Barca 2 years to make us an offer that was only mildly insulting. It's easy to say we should've let him go earlier. The willing was there on the club's part, but Barca let this fester, not us. They offered £25m in June. Last season we were unfortunate because TV5 and RvP are the other big players in our spine. Those 3 just didn't get the chance to play in the same team. They represent the class and leadership. Too often, we had only one of them at the most at our disposal.
Little Dutch
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12/08/2011 19:32:00

The whole thing just has me mentally & emotionally exhausted. I'm worn down. I know few will agree but I can't ever shake the feeling that AW & the club in general has wasted Cesc-one of the finest, most creative players ever in the modern game-& not provided him with enuf of the tools to bring us success. Yes I know all the arguments, Cesc's own responsibility yadayadayada. Enuf. No one can shake that feeling from me. I'll miss watching Arsenal without playing Cesc-& it'll hurt to watch Cesc playing in a Barca shirt. I've come to love him as a gunner & as a magnificent player. The way he told off Pulis. Throwing pizza at RedNose. Just a helluva a kid. Whatever. It's done, it's over. Tomorrow is Newcastle & couple days later it's Udinese (which I'm much more worried about). It's a new season, we have new players and a new team to think about. Goodbye, Cesc.
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12/08/2011 19:35:00

great player - poor captain. making him captain put too much pressure on him and led to 2 poorish seasons..... now we've got a british midfield of 4 of the best young players in the game.... ramsey and wilshere in the middle add theo and alex on the wings and we are in a better position. Wenger changed the formation to fit cesc into his favoured role.... now we can change it back to one that works! so long as wenger signs cahill then we can challenge...
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12/08/2011 19:52:00

May not be the best ever for Arsenal.. but my favorite Arsenal player. Period. Just wait and watch. Now Cesc is going to go down in footballing folklore as he conquers everything in his path. The boy is a winner.
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12/08/2011 19:54:00

If only Wenger had provided him with players of similar calibre. The thing about Cesc is that he is as hardworking and determined as he is talented and wanted to win everything. But being surrounded with the likes of DIaby and Denilson when he could be winning stuff was perhaps too much for him. I'll still be following his career. Just love the kid.
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12/08/2011 20:03:00

I'm still at phase two atm and I don't think I'm going to shake that bitterness until the season starts and we show we can cope without him, which we can because we did really well without the season before last.
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12/08/2011 20:10:00

Sajit he was also surrounded by Vermalaen, Van Persie, Arshavin, Sagna and Wilsere and while I don't feel any of them, bar VP, are as as good as Cesc I feel we're being a little insulting to other Arsenal players.
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12/08/2011 20:23:00

Cesc is a winner at heart. He loves the club but at the moment we arent going anywhere. Thats the nub of it. Its a shame for us as fans and Wenger, ut you can't say we never saw it coming.
Wyn Mills
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12/08/2011 20:49:00

To say he's a poor captain and that he's had 2 poor seasons is so wide of the mark, I'm wondering if that post was left by Fernando Torres, Dan. I'm not so sure it's Cesc's conviction that Arsenal are going nowhere, I think it's more that he always wanted to go back to Barca one day. Right now they're the greatest team on earth and have a chance in the next 3-4 years to go down as one of the best ever. He wants to be a part of that and I understand that.
Little Dutch
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12/08/2011 21:03:00

Nice player you lost there. If you can fill the void is another story. And, yes, nice write up. I love reading stuffs like this. very rational.
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12/08/2011 21:05:00

sad day for you lot if he and Nasri go!
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12/08/2011 21:30:00

Cant wait to see who we put out tomorrow - just Wilshire out, should get a good idea who our starting 11 will be this season, hoping for a Kos and Verm defense
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12/08/2011 22:06:00

Time for WILSHERE to step up!
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12/08/2011 22:41:00

You make it sound like he's been hiding Dannism, he was one of the few consistent players for us last season!
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12/08/2011 22:51:00

Absolutely GUTTED and not a little bitter. £31 million for a 24 year old of his calibre is an absolutely AWFUL piece of business. I absolutely DESPISE Barcelona and to let them win this situation, in such a fashion is galling. I am one very UNHAPPY Arsenal fan today.
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12/08/2011 23:35:00

Apparently Brazilian Jadson from Shakhtar is being lined up?
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Wilshere stepped up big time last year, probably the best English player in the league.
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13/08/2011 00:03:00

Losing Cesc & Nasri will mean less ****** footing about and maybe make you more direct like you were in 2003? OK your Defence & Keeper arent as good as 2003. And you could do with a tank in midfield like a Gilberto/Vieira type. But going down the speed & power route with Gervinho, Walcott, Chamberlain, others etc and it could work for you. It nearly got Aston Villa a CL spot a few years ago and they didnt have a Wilshere in midfield.
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13/08/2011 04:14:00

I also think Liverpool have spent £100m on aload of poo and that we are still both superior to them, and we havent really flexed our financial muscles yet. If you get a Mata, Jadson & Cahill - & we get Diarra & Adebayor then i think we will have a shootout for 4th again like lasagne-gate.
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13/08/2011 04:19:00

p u ssy is getting banned from forums nowdays?
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13/08/2011 04:20:00

My favourite quote, from the film 'Che': Little boy, no one is so necessary or indispensable in this life.
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13/08/2011 07:16:00

All players are transient. Never more so than now. It's achievements that are remembered - and the players are just attached to those.
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13/08/2011 08:30:00

I fall into the angry category. I'm furious with Wenger for allowing this to destabilise the club on the eve of the new season. No doubt Barcelona planned it this way but the cut off point for negotiatiions should have happened far earlier than this. We have traded Cesc in at miles below his worth to a team who don't actually need him all for the sake of sparing his feelings. wenger is soft and foolish, and there are now players with agents who are ready to take full advantage of his sentimentalism. His message now is that we have too many players and don't need to bring anyone in (bar super quality). This is a different message to the one we were being fed at the end of last season, when we staggered over the line with defensive and midfield issues. We start this season already with a raft of injuries. While I wish Cesc all the best Barcelona can rot in hell. I really have no great expectations for this season, and neither does Wenger judging by his comments before the game today about there being no excuses for poor performances. Nothing like getting off to a positive start. Monsieur Wenger, can we have our Arsenal back please?
Wyn Mills
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13/08/2011 09:10:00

What Arsenal would that be?
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13/08/2011 09:31:00

We knew this would happen some time or the other. Just have to accept it as LD says. And I would advice the Wenger opposers to hold their fire because we're still active in the market. Messrs Mata and Jadson might well be on their way.
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13/08/2011 09:39:00

The one which isnt held to ransom and doesnt treat its fans like idiots.
Wyn Mills
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13/08/2011 09:46:00

Nothing much the club can do about contract law or when the transfer window closes and you can only feel treated as an idiot if you're feeling idiotic. Not much anyone else can do about that either.
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13/08/2011 10:21:00

Tbf Wyn this hasn't destabilised the club in any way. We knew Cesc was gonna go for a long time. It was just a matter of time. It just so happens that it happened on the eve of the new season.
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13/08/2011 10:33:00

i hope we can go back to the system where we have 2 very strong dm like vieira, petit, parlour & edu. we already have one in song, maybe frimpong could step up too. we need to form a solid shield in front of the back four. the departure of vieira & the emergence of fab had altered our tactic completely. reverting to the old system with 2 dm & 2 wingers in the midfield may not be a bad idea
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13/08/2011 11:19:00

I'm over it already. There will always be a better player around the corner and new hero's. He will be remembered but I assure you that he will never gain the legendary status of Henry Viera Bergcamp Adams and many others simply because he was never in an dominant team that won everything around them. And sadly I think he will never reach the hights at Barcelona as he hopes to do. I hope he will because I will always respect Cesc but somehow I think his time there will be similar to the world cup last year, never the leading man. It may sound harsh but who would you guys take out of the Barca team for Fab? Xavi? Iniesta? or the young upcoming star that I believe will be better than both Iniesta or Xavi. Cesc is not leaving now like many believe, he left us in all but name last summer and that's something I will never forgive Wenger for, not replacing him sooner or at all.
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13/08/2011 12:28:00

Sorry to break the bad news but according to Wenger you won't be getting Mata or Jadson.
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13/08/2011 12:34:00

I no longer take any notice of what Wenger says....after all he told us we where no longer a big club if we would sell both Nasri and Cesc. Well we have and I have news for monsuer Wenger despite his best efforts in the last few years we are STILL a big club.
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13/08/2011 12:41:00

Are Amos and Wenger the same person? Has anybody seen them together at the same time?
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13/08/2011 12:43:00

That's not even an original pathetic playground level taunt elbondo.
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13/08/2011 13:10:00

The club couldn't have handled the whole Fabregas saga in a worse manner if they'd tried. And just to pile insult on to agony we have Wenger living in cloud cuckoo land pretending we are STRONGER than we were last year and flatly fibbing to the fans. I'm not sure who he's trying to delude but frankly he's looking more ridiculous with every passing week standing there with no clothes on. Actually, the club can do quite a bit about contract law and transfer windows. Its called holding on to a player when they have 4 years left on their contract. Not selling your captain a day before the season starts (have you heard of such a pathetic thing?). As for transfer windows this one started at the end of last season. That's a few months to address any glaring issues you may have. But oh yes, according to Wenger we apparently have none.
Wyn Mills
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13/08/2011 17:08:00

Having Vermaelen and Koscielny as our cb pairing on the opening day is hardly a disaster. AW has already said he intends to sign another CB before the deadline. Ideally we would have our CB already but things aren't always that simple. Long as we have another CB before the deadline I'm not too bothered. Also we have to move players on sometimes before we can replace them and that's not always an easy thing to do as a lot of clubs around europe seem to be cash strapped at the moment. Call me crazy but I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the new season. Glad the Fabregas saga is finally over and if we get 22 mill for Nasri then that's a pretty good deal. We will need to sign a playmaker to replace Cesc and that's not going to be easy but we have strengthed our attack in other ways with the signings of Gervinho, Campbell and Chamberlain. For me, our attack was more of a concern than our defence as for all our possession in games towards the end of last season, we created very little in the way of clear cut chances. All these fans, journalists and pundits that think AW has lost the plot are just ignorant and disrespectful in my opinion.
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13/08/2011 17:32:00

Cesc has behaved as well as he could, and he will have a lot of respect for that. A truly world class player, and someone who will be missed. I really hope he goes onto be recognized as one of the best ever, better than Xavi and Iniesta. But why is Wenger taking all the blame, Gazidis is also responsible for the appalling way in which this situation was handled. This club is not run that well. Its a shame that the club has been looking for defensive reinforcements for the entire summer, but cant close a single deal!
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13/08/2011 21:02:00

Armory, by that logic, Liam Brady is not a club legend. He left at 24 with one F.A. Cup too.
Little Dutch
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14/08/2011 03:44:00

Someone said 2 poor seasons?! Please say 1! 20 goals and 19 assits is NO where near poor!
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14/08/2011 07:19:00

Cracking player, never a captain imo, his head drops too easily to be a good captain. Massive loss for you guys all told.
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14/08/2011 11:52:00

Extraordinary Talent and a wonderful player for us.I can't help but place the blame on Wenger's doorstep purely because he made some atrocious decisions where Fab's midfield partners were concerned.Letting Fla -money go when him and Cesc looked to be building a formidable partnership was a faux-pas of stratospheric proportions in my book!!.Still I wish Him Well.TopPlayer.
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15/08/2011 16:10:00

Wyn Mills you have said yourself "I really have no great expectations for this season.." Remember that statement in the coming season. Chill and try and enjoy football for a change.
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16/08/2011 10:18:00

Cesc is a very good player but personally I wouldn’t have him better than Brady at 24. By the way Cesc cuddled up to the Barca palyers in the tunnel during one of last year’s CL matches (and a very lazy back-heel) it seemed to suggest that we lost him last summer anyway. It was his desire to go back to Spain that cost us our transfer fee, what else could we do? Barcelona have done us good and proper because we can’t have a player, especially our captain, biding his time playing in our midfield, and they’ve managed maximum disruption to the (very difficult) start of our season, possibly affecting our CL qualification. I’m glad that it’s over and I not shedding any tears, but I am disappointed that, over the next four years, we shall be watching Cesc mature in a Barcelona shirt when Arsene invested so much time and energy into nurtured him to be in the red of Arsenal.
Sir Henry
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16/08/2011 14:25:00


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