Fabregas has an itch - can Arsenal scratch it and retain him?
Many players seem to reach a point when they want to move on - and when the good ones want to move there are only so many viable destinations. High profile recent examples of players who wanted moves include Cristiano Ronaldo who got his dream move to Real Madrid last summer and Thierry Henry who got his Barcelona call a couple of years earlier. So in some ways a move to Barcelona for Cesc Fabregas has an air of inevitability about it now that Fabregas has indicated a desire to move - if not yet a willingness to hand in a transfer request.
His comments that he is ready to let Arsene Wenger deal with the matter did sound like the comments of a man who is unhappy with having to shoulder the responsibility of the transfer - and that he would rather it was sorted out without him having to burn bridges. The old fashioned idea of not holding on to players who want to leave still holds - so what can Arsenal do?
Well the most obvious answer is to hold out for as much money as possible. This could be described as the Tottenham Gambit. When Spurs usually delay selling a player to Manchester United until they've wrung every last penny out of the deal. The fact is that this rarely leaves enough time to recruit a replacement and can derail an entire season.
Perhaps a cleverer ploy would be to loan Fagregas to Barcelona instead.
If Fabregas is intent on going, let him go and in return ask the Catalan club to loan a couple of players in the opposite direction with the intention of negotiating the transfer over the course of the season. With David Villa now at Camp Nou there is every chance that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be available (some people reckon he had a disastrous season but 16 league goals in a season when he often on the bench is not a bad return); and Yaya Toure is known to be available.
A swap loan deal that would see Toure and Ibrahimovic arrive at the Emirates and Fabregas given his shot at La Liga would strengthen Arsenal's squad, reduce the tension of an overhanging transfer and allow Wenger to concentrate on getting in a new goalkeeper and a centre-half.
During his year in Spain Fabregas would probably be fighting for a place with Iniesta and Xavi - not a battle that is certainly winnable. And unless Barca go mad they will certainly want one defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation. If Fabregas becomes indespensible then his value will rise and either Iniesta or Xavi may become surplus to requirements as a result - if not he could return to Arsenal a more complete player ready to prove himself again and with an itch scratched.