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Jun 13, 2014

Failure to re-sign Fabregas could haunt Arsenal

Chelsea have signed Cesc Fabregas after Arsenal declined to make a bid for his return.

For Arsenal fans and for those who loved pretty much everything Cesc Fabregas did in a red and white shirt, seeing him sign for Chelsea hurts.

The pain of his departure in 2011 has long gone and many wouldn't have batted an eyelid if he'd signed for any of the big clubs in Europe. But his arrival back in England changes the game. It's genuinely unpleasant to think of him being managed by Jose Mourinho and celebrating goals with John Terry.

- Lythell: Coup for Chelsea

I wrote on my blog last week that I thought Arsenal were wrong not to want him back. A player of his ability doesn't become available often -- especially at that price -- and make no mistake, Fabregas would have returned to Arsenal if they had wanted him. The bottom line is they didn't; something the former Barcelona man said himself.

"Yes, everyone knows that Arsenal had the first option to sign me. They decided not to take this option ... it wasn't meant to be."

I think Arsene Wenger looked at his squad and felt that Fabregas and Mesut Ozil would vie for the same role, and having spent 42.5 million pounds on the German last summer, the Arsenal manager decided to pass on that option they worked so hard to include in the sale back in 2011.

Not only that -- if Arsenal currently have a surplus in any position, it's creative, attacking midfielders. Aaron Ramsey blossomed last season, and Wenger will be hoping Jack Wilshere can make a similar leap in the next campaign. Santi Cazorla has just signed a new deal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is beginning to mature and Tomas Rosicky is still in the mix.

If the Gunners need a midfield recruit, it's someone further back who can add physicality and solidity to the position currently occupied by Mikel Arteta and, from time to time, Mathieu Flamini. That's not Cesc's game.

So much of what happens in football is down to timing. This time last year there's no question he'd have been an Arsenal player again had he been available. Since then, Arsenal have moved on, and there's no room at the inn for the former son.

While you can rightly point to Arsenal's injuries as further justification to bring him back, clearly Wenger feels his money needs to be spent elsewhere this summer. Striker, right-back, goalkeeper and a more defensive-minded midfielder are on the list, but this decision is one which could come back to haunt him if the quality doesn't arrive.

When you pass on a player of Cesc's quality, you had better have a plan, because not only has he decided not to make Arsenal better, a main rival are now significantly stronger in a position they badly needed to strengthen.

Many will disagree with Wenger's decision but will understand why he made it. It's now up to the Arsenal manager to ensure that the work he does this summer makes it one he doesn't regret.