BARCELONA - Cesc Fabregas's Barcelona dream has finally come true, but the former Arsenal captain
now faces a fight to earn a regular starting place with the
The 24-year-old is seen as the natural successor to Spain
and Barca playmaker Xavi, who turns 32 in January, but it will
not be easy to dislodge a man who is central to Barca's
trademark possession-based game.
Barca's tried and tested midfield triumvirate of Xavi,
Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets have secured three
consecutive league titles and two European Cups since 2009.
The same trio have also helped keep Fabregas on the fringes
of Spain's national team, but the reason Guardiola pushed so
hard for the former Barca academy player is for his adaptability
and his intimate knowledge of the Catalan club's playing style.
"Cesc's versatility hasn't gone unnoticed by Josep
Guardiola," read a statement on Barca's official website.
"Fabregas can play in every midfield position. He can play
as a defensive midfielder, on the left or right of midfield and
even just behind the striker.
"At Arsenal he's shown that he can perform extremely well in
all these positions... his vision of the game and goalscoring
potential have never been in question."
Javier Mascherano provides a blueprint for the new arrival. The Argentine midfielder went straight from Liverpool to
Barca's bench in 2010 but quickly demonstrated his value as a
team player prepared to learn and bide his time.
Mascherano has swapped his more natural midfield habitat for
the defence when required, as occurred again in Sunday's Spanish
Super Cup first leg against Real Madrid, his composure on the
ball perhaps being valued above other considerations.
Fabregas gives Guardiola options as they chase trophies on
six fronts this season: the Spanish Super Cup, the European
Super Cup, the World Club Cup, the King's Cup, La Liga and the
Not only does Fabregas have established players to contend
with, however, but hot on his heels he has Barca's latest youth
system young gun Thiago Alcantara.
The 20-year-old midfielder debuted for Spain against Italy
last week, was voted player of the final when Spain won the
European Under-21 championship in June, and impressed against
Bayern Munich and Manchester United in pre-season games.
"Barca are a team expert at interchanging positions and
neither Cesc or Thiago will have problems adapting to this
model," former Barca coach Radomir Antic told Sport
Fabregas, who idolised Guardiola the player who bossed the
midfield of Johan Cruyff's 1990s Barca team, knows he has the
support of the club, the coach and the fans as a returning
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes gave an indication of how
pleased the side were to welcome back their former colleague,
who left for Arsenal aged 16, when he spoke to reporters on
"He is a great player, with tried and tested abilities," the
Spain international said.
"He has loads of talent, he is ideal for our style of play."
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