Today Robson has come out on Sky Sports and said that he thinks the long-running transfer saga involving Arsenal's Spanish international midfielder and captain Cesc Fabregas needs to be ended by the immediate departure of the player to Barcelona. I agree.
The Catalan club has been after its former youth team player for over a year and it missed out on his transfer last summer because it couldn't match the Gunners' asking price. So far the same appears to have been true this year, with Arsenal's powers-that-be reportedly valuing Fabregas at £40m and Barcelona offering significantly less than that.
As the saga has dragged on there have been indications that Fabregas’ mood has become increasingly hostile towards his current club. This supposedly culminated in his departure from the club’s stadium at half-time in their Emirates Cup match against Boca Juniors last Saturday.
Moreover, the words coming out Wenger's mouth about the situation have been sounding less and less convincing. Wenger has stated that Fabregas is caught between his love for Arsenal, with which he is currently under a long-term contract, and Barcelona, his boyhood team and currently the best club side in the world. Wenger has also suggested that delays in the transfer of Fabregas have been partly due to the player's failure to resolve that dilemma.
Yet, there can be little doubt that if Barcelona came in with an offer that was to Arsenal's liking, Fabregas would be off. He might spare some time for affectionate handshakes and hugs with his friends but the signs are that his desire to return to the club that Arsenal took him from is overwhelming.
Unfortunately, Barcelona’s pursuit of Fabregas has placed Arsenal in an awkward position. The London club is understandably determined to get the best price for their captain. Discussions have become so protracted, though, that they appear to have complicated negotiations over player purchases that Wenger wants to make.
While its main Premier League rivals have been snapping up top players pronto, Arsenal has been linked with a plethora of high profile names and secured only one (Gervinho from Lille). The reported rise in Juan Mata's price is a case in point. The press reports suggest that he is a serious target for Wenger, yet no deal has been closed and an unspoken agreement between Mata and his club, Valencia, has now made him more expensive.
A lack of movement in the transfer market is commonly associated with Arsenal, of course, due to Wenger’s admirable financial conservatism. The implications this summer are more serious than they have been before, though. Wenger's reputation among some fans is on the line. Furthermore, the Fabregas saga has unsettled the player himself and left his team-mates in limbo during their pre-season preparations.
This is probably true not least for Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who doesn't know whether or not he will step into the Spaniard's shoes in midfield when the season starts. And Samir Nasri. He could still decide to go if the Arsenal board don't convince him of their ambitions by leaving enough time to get replacements that compensate for Fabregas' expected departure.
After another disappointing season, a summer in which there has been a lack of new signings has got some Emirates natives restless. Several made that clear at the weekend when they booed the team at a pre-season friendly that is intended as an exciting curtain raiser to the new season. Why? Because in the two games that the team played, Arsenal failed to hold onto a lead. In so doing, they lost out on another trophy, albeit a trivial one. This kind of failing has plagued Arsenal for at least the last two seasons and has not been addressed by capturing the right players.
One thing is clear: it is time for the Fabregas saga to be done and surely the best resolution is for Cesc to be sold. Given the pressure on him, Arsène Wenger can't afford to carry a player this coming season whose heart is not at the club, especially when it’s the captain. Given Fabregas' worsening record of injuries, this might also prove to be the best time to have sold him. Another season too often spent warming a seat behind the bench will only lower his value and might leave Wenger and the Arsenal board ruing a lost opportunity.
Bravo to Stewart Robson for saying the sensible thing again.