AC Milan and Inter Target Barcelona Star Cesc Fabregas


Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona (Flickr Commons)

The rumor mill has been churning out blockbuster moves of late, linking some of world football’s biggest stars to some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The most recent outlandish transfer rumor involves Spain international Cesc Fabregas in a proposed move to the Serie A, with AC Milan and Inter Milan rumored to be suitors, according to Football-Italia (via Corriere dello Sport).

Juventus clinched their 31st Serie A title today and with Juve set to further strengthen their squad with the addition of Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, while retaining the services of superstar Arturo Vidal, despite approaches from Bayern Munich and Manchester United, La Vecchia Signora look primed to continue their reign on Italy’s top flight.

Both Milan clubs don’t seem content playing second fiddle to Juve and both clubs have been linked with multiple big names but none bigger than Cesc Fabregas. The 26-year old Barcelona midfielder is a phenomenal talent and first established himself on football’s main stage during his time at Arsenal. As a Gunner, Fabregas made 212 league appearances and scored 35 goals while widely being considered one of the Premier League’s best players. A drama-filled transfer saga ensued, culminating in Fabregas rejoining his boyhood club, Barcelona, for £29.9 million.

Now valued at €55 million, Fabregas has continued his world-class performances at the Camp Nou side, but has struggled to secure a starting spot week-in and week-out which has to be expected of a player of his quality. During his two-year spell with the Catalan giants, the former Arsenal man has made 92 appearances in all competitions, scoring 28 goals and assisting 31 times. Considering the plethora of world-class players at Barcelona, Fabregas can get lost in the shuffle at times as Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova seemed to prefer a midfield triumvirate of Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets.

Iniesta is widely considered to be the third best player in the world, Xavi is the team’s second most important player, after Messi, and Sergio Busquets is the only defensive-minded player of the trio. Fabregas has been unable to supplant either Iniesta or Xavi and does not possess the defensive abilities of Busquets, and is not a natural winger meaning he wouldn’t be chosen to occupy either wing spot in Barcelona’s 4-3-3. Such is the plight of playing for Barcelona- the club has so many talented players that consistent starts are hard to come by.

Enter AC Milan and Inter.

Milan are perpetually frugal in the transfer market, opting for free transfers or players at discounted fees. It would seem impossible for the Rossoneri to fund a transfer that would almost certainly be in excess of €40 million. Aside from the obvious financial difficulties, Milan seem to have settled on a 4-3-3 and the addition of Fabregas would likely spell the end of Kevin-Prince Boateng or Riccardo Montolivo’s time at the San Siro, two propositions that look highly unlikely.

A midfield trio of Fabregas, Boateng and Montolivo would undoubtedly produce some beautiful attacking football, however with none of three players being defensive-minded, that defensive presence in midfield would be sorely missed. Montolivo has been sensational this season and while Boateng has struggled somewhat, he has found a level of consistency after coach Massimiliano Allegri finally decided to field him in his natural box-to-box role, spurning the idea of fielding the dynamic Ghana international as a winger or trequartista.

Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni seems to prefer a 4-2-3-1 and Fabregas could be used anywhere across the attacking midfield area as well as possibly even being a midfield pivot, taking on the role of a deep-lying playmaker. Playing alongside Esteban Cambiasso in the defensive-midfield area could yield a partnership similar to the one Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso have forged at Real Madrid. However, placing Fabregas in a deeper role could limit his ability to score and he is more than capable of hitting the back of the net. Playing him in the advanced midfield area alongside Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio would be devastating for opposing defenses.

Like Milan, Inter could struggle with the transfer fee but Football-Italia cites the possible inclusion of Samir Handanovic in a deal to bring Fabregas to the blue half of Milan. Barcelona are rumored to be interested in the Slovenian keeper, as long-time keeper Victor Valdes could be looking for a move away from Camp Nou. Handanovic is a world class keeper and including him in the deal would drastically lower the fee. Couple that with the seemingly good relationship between the two clubs (Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were involved in a swap deal between the clubs), and it seems as though Inter stand a much better chance of signing the uber-talented Fabregas.

Should Fabregas choose to join either Milan or Inter, it would not only be a huge coup for the club that signs him, it would be a huge boost for Serie A as a whole. Italy’s top flight has been declining of late as it struggles to attract some of world football’s best talents. The league could potentially lose Edinson Cavani as the prolific Uruguayan striker has been linked with moves to Real Madrid, PSG and Manchester City.

If the past is any indication of the future, I can’t see how Fabregas would even contemplate leaving his boyhood club, the club that he forced a transfer to. It would be a different story if Arsenal were in the mix as a return to his former club would seem much more likely than a move to either Inter or Milan. Taking into account that Inter will almost certainly be left out of the Champions League while Milan are also in a precarious spot concerning Champions League qualification, a move away from the most successful team of this era seems highly improbable.

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