Fab without Cesc?
Wenger should replace skipper with experience
Last Updated: May 19, 2010 1:10pm
Fabregas: not bigger than the club
Alan Smith believes Arsenal can cope without Cesc Fabregas if the influential midfielder completes his much-expected move to Barcelona.
Journalist and Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague wrote an article in Spanish Newspaper AS on Tuesday, revealing that Fabregas has asked Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to allow him to join the La Liga champions ahead of the World Cup.
The news will come as bitter blow to the Londoners who would be loath to lose their inspirational skipper, but ex-Arsenal striker Smith believes that the princely sum Fabregas would garner would allow Wenger to augment other areas of his squad.
"It is a blow and it sends out the kind of message that we heard last summer with Cristiano Ronaldo going to Real Madrid. You don't like to see players of that quality leaving the Premier League to start off with but as an Arsenal fan I certainly wouldn't want to lose somebody of his quality," Smith told Sky Sports News.
"But you can always afford to lose a player, no player is bigger than the football club. It's going to hurt if Cesc (Fabregas) does leave but you move on and if the figures we're hearing are true - £30-35million - then he's (Wenger) obviously got a bit of scope to replace Fabregas.
"You're not going to be able to get in a player of his ability, you wouldn't imagine, but maybe he thinks he could strengthen in other areas."
However, Smith also reckons that Wenger will be enraged that Fabregas' representatives and Barcelona have been in contact, despite the 23-year-old having a lengthy time left on his deal at the Emirates.
"I think Arsene Wenger will be livid at the situation because he's got a player there who's got four years left on his contract and obviously there has been contact between Fabregas' agent and Barcelona and he'll want to know how that situation has come about.
"We know it happens in football but four years is a long time to have on a contract and the player signed that willingly. He committed himself and if his form had dipped for any reason or he'd really suffered on the pitch, he'd have expected to be paid the money still.
"But as we know the power is all on the players' side these days, especially for a club like Arsenal that runs the financial side on the right lines."
Wenger's transfer policy during his time in north London has been to sign promising young players but Smith feels that if Fabregas does depart The Gunners this summer, he will be replaced by an experienced campaigner.
"He (Wenger) said some time ago that the players he brings in will be experienced. He doesn't want to add more youthful promise to what he's already got, so if he is forced into a position where he's got to replace Fabregas, you would imagine he is going to buy the ready-made article," said the Soccer Saturday pundit.
"A lot of people are mentioning Mikel Arteta and I'm sure David Moyes wouldn't thank us for doing it, but there's a player who knows the Premier League. His quality is superb and he's the kind of player that Wenger likes so he might try to go down that road."
If Fabregas does swap the Premier League for La Liga, he will follow in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso who left England for Real Madrid last year.
But Smith does not believe that the Spanish top flight has replaced the Premier League as the ultimate destination for the World's top players.
"You're not talking about La Liga, you're talking about two clubs," he added.
"Real Madrid run themselves on different lines to most other clubs in Europe in that they go into massive debt to get these players. We know their 'Galactico' policy, it's been in place for years. Barcelona have got huge sums of money to spend as well.
Maybe it's coincidence that one or two of our players are drifting off (to Spain), but I think it's too early to say that that's the dominant league and where everybody wants to play because I still don't believe that is."