Not many players play on with a broken leg. That’s my overriding memory of Cesc Fabregas, scoring a penalty, breaking his leg in the process (or damaging it further) and playing on for the last 5 minutes. Hobbling around, shouting, organising and corralling his team-mates.
It’s said to see Fabregas go, it feels like we never really matched his potential. He’s a World Cup winner, and there’s something down inside me that thinks that last season, winning the league might have convinced him to stay for another year or so. I think the way in which we capitulated was realistically always going to accelerate his departure. I mean, would you want to be within touching distance every year and fall short in the final months? Or would you want to be lifting trophies? Arsenal should have been winning trophies with a footballer as talented as Fabregas in the side – which makes me fear for Robin Van Persie next.
There are some who question Fabregas as a leader – and I’m one of them. The captaincy fell to him by default almost, and seemed to weigh him down at times, like it did Henry. Not only was he carrying the team, he was carry their leadership – expected to win matches as well as well as keep the team from collapsing – as at Newcastle, it didn’t always work.
But that takes nothing away from the player, who will surely thrive at the Camp Nou with the weight of a captains expectation lifted from his shoulders. Rotating into the Barca squad, he’ll be fresh and hungry, eager to take Xavi’s place.