There have been developments regarding the future of two former Arsenal stars linked with returns to the Emirates in recent days. Both Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas departed the Gunners in recent seasons but have endured difficult campaigns this term.
Van Persie initially achieved what he set out for when he left Arsenal in 2012 when he lifted the Premier League title and got to work with Sir Alex Ferguson. But Ferguson’s departure last summer coupled with Manchester United’s dismal form and Van Persie’s reportedly less than harmonious relationship with David Moyes, was believed to have left him considering his options this close season.
Arsenal have been widely linked with a move to bring the striker back to the club he played for with distinction for eight seasons. Reports in February even suggested that Arsene Wenger had met with Van Persie’s agent, with both parties said to be keen on making a transfer happen.
However, Moyes’s sacking on Tuesday is likely to change all that. At the very least, Van Persie is sure to wait and see who the new manager is and what his plans are before making any decision over his future. And, if United appoint the current favorite to land the manager’s job, Louis van Gaal, then Van Persie’s future at Old Trafford will be secure.
Van Gaal has made Van Persie captain of the Netherlands and the two are thought to enjoy a strong relationship. Indeed, Van Persie’s agent, Kees Vos, is widely reported to be behind attempting to secure Van Gaal a job in England this summer.
While there now looks little prospect of Van Persie returning to Arsenal in the near future, Fabregas’s future has come under renewed doubt. In his third season back at his boyhood club Barcelona, Fabregas has enjoyed a more integral role than in either of his first two. However, the campaign has not gone well for the Catalans.
In the space of a week earlier this month, Barcelona were dumped out of the Champions League, dropped four points back in the race for the Primera Division title and lost the Copa del Rey final to Real Madrid. Fabregas’s selection in place of a third forward in many of the club’s big games coupled with often underperforming has garnered criticism from many. Indeed, Fabregas was even jeered by some of his own fans when coming off the bench against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Coach Gerardo Martino came to Fabregas’s defense after the match, but, with Martino set to be replaced this summer, the 26-year-old’s future is likely to depend on the next coach through the door. Fabregas was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United last summer, although it appeared that there was never any chance of the Spain international making the move. Wenger confirmed at the time of the speculation that Arsenal have a buy-back option giving them first refusal should Fabregas be made available. The Arsenal boss also claimed that Fabregas would stay “one more year at least at Barcelona,” raising the possibility that Fabregas might decide this summer that his future lies elsewhere. The fact that Barcelona’s transfer ban has been suspended increases the prospect of Fabregas leaving as part of a squad overhaul.
Wenger’s priority in the transfer market, though, doubtless remains to add firepower to his squad. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema was one of the strikers most keenly linked with a move to the Emirates last season. Although the France international has enjoyed arguably his finest season at the Bernabeu since moving from Lyon in 2009, the Daily Mirror has claimed that Madrid are prepared to sell Benzema in order to fund a move for Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. Arsenal have also previously shown interest in another of Madrid’s strikers, 21-year-old Alvaro Morata.