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Jun 2, 2014

Come home, Cesc

Arsenal don't really need Cesc Fabregas. However, they didn't really need Mesut Ozil either. Sometimes a footballer becomes available with such a unique talent that they immediately supersede other priorities. Fabregas is one such player.

However, for Arsenal fans, he's more than just a player: he's a symbol. He was the jewel in the Gunners' crown prior to being plucked away by Barcelona. Bringing him back could provide a morale boost to match the return of silverware to the Arsenal trophy cabinet.

- McNicholas: Arsenal's new era
- Transfer talk: Balotelli move?

Fabregas and Arsenal's story is already heavily intertwined. When a player rejoins a former club, headline writers often turn to the allegorical tale of the prodigal son. However, the parable would require significant tweaking -- or indeed a sequel -- to be analogous with Fabregas' mooted return to Arsenal. For the playmaker, this would be a second Odyssean journey in just three years.

Fabregas initially left Barcelona as a teenager to seek first team football at Arsenal. He achieved his goal of establishing himself as a major name on the European stage but was unable to claim the silverware he craved. Frustrated by Arsenal's parsimony in the transfer market and pining for his homeland, he returned to his boyhood club in 2011.

Now he could be set to go back to the club who oversaw his transition from boy to man. After a trophy-less season and the appointment of a new manager, Barcelona's squad seems primed for a revamp. Fabregas' price-tag and diminishing popularity makes him an obvious choice to be sacrificed. Reports suggest the Catalan club would consider selling him for 30 million pounds, which would actually represent a loss on their outlay.

Arsenal have a first refusal option in the event of a sale. However, they shouldn't need a clause to be first in the queue. It's difficult to envisage a scenario where Arsenal him and then regret the deal. However, if the Spain international is allowed to join a rival, Arsenal could come to rue it.

There is no downside to his acquisition. Some will point to Arsenal's abundance of attacking midfield options but you can never have too much of a good thing. What's more, by the end of next season, Santi Cazorla will join Tomas Rosicky in being the wrong side of 30. Fabregas is young enough to replace the likes of Rosicky but old enough to be a mentor for Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry.

He's also far more than just a pure number 10. The idea that it's impossible to accommodate both Fabregas and Mesut Ozil in the Arsenal starting line-up is a fallacy. In his time at the Nou Camp, Fabregas has been deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, a wide forward and even a false nine. Arsenal do not play a rigid system and Fabregas has the talent, intelligence and experience to flourish in a variety of roles.

Worryingly for Arsenal, he might also be capable of flourishing with a variety of clubs. As yet, his availability has yet to provoke any official response from Arsenal. Meanwhile, stories of interest from the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool grow by the day. Watching the beloved former skipper return to his native Barcelona was painful enough. Seeing him adopt the colours of a Premier League rival is a thought to turn the stomach of any staunch Gunners supporter.

Arsenal have the money to prevent that from happening. They ought to have the will, too. Ultimately, any Arsenal squad containing Fabregas is stronger. Those who remember his first spell at the club could be forgiven for thinking he was a once in a lifetime talent. If Arsene Wenger is prepared to bite the bullet, he could yet make that twice in a lifetime.

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