Amongst all the speculation around Cesc’s future, there is one line I keep hearing, time and time again: ‘There is no point keeping a player who wants to leave’. With player power never more dominant than in the present game, those producing that statement would have you believe that contracts are not worth the paper they are written on.
The argument is always that if you force a player to stay, they will coast through games, or worse, become a disruptive influence in the dressing room. Then, you are backed into a corner and forced to sell a short while later, but at a cut price.
For many, that is certainly true. Adebayor alone was proof of what can happen when a player sets his heart elsewhere (although City paid over the odds in the end), especially if work rate was what made that player so useful in the first place. But Cesc isn’t like Adebayor, he knows no other way than to give everything in every single game, and furthermore he actually cares about Arsenal, about Wenger and about the fans.
If Barcelona do not cough up the required funds to take him back to Spain, he will stay, and I’m certain that he fully understands our stance on that. Moreover, he is sensible and mature enough to respect the position, and if our demands are not met, he will return to captain the club before reigniting the transfer some time in the future.
The crucial point is this – Cesc will not let himself blame Arsenal if the proposed move does not go ahead this summer. No doubt he already knows our valuation of him, and one way or another Barcelona will too. If they do not pay it, that is their problem, and their fault, not ours.
Many point to Vieira and Henry as evidence of players who went on to have poor final seasons after being convinced by Wenger to delay prospective moves away from the club. But both were moving past their peak, and Henry in particular was struggling with a myriad of injuries that continued into his first season at Barcelona. It is hardly as if their form returned to previous heights once sold.
Cesc has no such worries, and if we’re looking for evidence of what can happen when a player remains focused, we should look no further than our most recent signing, Marouane Chamakh. He knew of our interest and offer last summer, he knew his contract was coming to an end, and with his move inevitable, he still had the most impressive season of his career before leaving Bordeaux.
Cesc will eventually move to Barcelona – he knows it, we know it – but if that move is delayed, even by a single year, he will do everything he can to ensure he lifts a trophy before heading home.
Taking that into consideration, Barcelona have no cards to play. They are targeting an intelligent, responsible and improving player on a long contract. Pay up or look elsewhere.