Fab is Arsenal…i believe and so should you.

The debate over Fab’s future is not about Fab; it’s about Club identity.  Crucially, Fab gets this.  This is why he has committed to the Arsenal and we are watching him achieve his ridiculous potential.  If not last year, it’s true this year: he knows Barca does not truy want him.  Barca just wants to say they were able to buy him.  But Arsenal (us) love Fab and Fab loves us -you can see it in the passion .  The putrid stench emanating from Old Camp, i.e. Laporte, is about the rise of Arsenal and the fall of Barca. So until Fab rips out my heart and grinds it into the pitch with his cleats, I’ll hear no more about him leaving; I’ll carry no insecurity.  I believe.  And so should you.  Fab is Arsenal, Arsenal is Fab.


Unfortunately, the battle over Fab is less about the man and more about the Clubs. Namely, Club identity and status.  The battle between Arsenal and Barca is not zero-sum; the Arsenal’s gain has been Barca’s loss, and not just Fab, but we’re talking competition for a global brand, culture, and leadership in how to play the game.  The Arsenal’s rise challenges Barca because it’s an English team, with money, organization and a global presence.  This discussion is much bigger than a blog, so lets just focus on the proxy battle of the day: Fantastic Fab.

The signing of Fab speaks to Arsenal’s new identity since the Professor has taken over.  Arsenal is now one of the big boys, not just in Europe, but globally.  Talent from all over the world know Arsenal and want to play for Arsenal.  Indeed, Fab’s story plays far and well to young talent in Brazil, Italy and Ghana.    On the other hand, the rise of the Arsenal didn’t occur in a vacuum.  While other teams also scour the world with global reputations, only Barca, essentially, held a special status for its way of playing the beautiful game.  Thus, while the talent pool has gone global and more teams have joined the elite, this particular war is strictly between A and B.

Over the last 15 years or so, the Arsenal identity has matured in very clear steps: (1) globalize the team, (2) develop young talent, (3) create a global brand and scouting network, (4) now, play beautiful football.  Put in more simple terms: win, win again, start to develop winners, then play how you want.  Fab fit into the latter stages of this plan.  The team was winning, a la the Invincibles, and the Arsenal formed a global brand.  Then, by bringing in a young talent through the ranks the Arsenal showed the opportunity existed for a young player.  An action that has been crucial to defining the Arsenal ability to identify and develop young talent.  Today, young talent choose the Arsenal because they see Fab’s story; and, they see one of truly global elite Clubs.  They also see a team that plays the kind of football they want to play: free-flowing and beautiful.

On other side of the coin, Barca was, well, Barca.  Already one of the global elite, Barca prided itself on developing talent.  This pride was their downfall.  Fab’s class of players was particularly talented.  As a result, the club could afford to ignore him.  Yes, Barca wanted to offer a contract, but football, like life, is about more than money.  Opportunity matters, especially to a young player trying to make his mark.  So Fab left to greener pastures, and this is where everything gets twisted by the Catalans.

Barca lost Fab because of Barca, not the Arsenal.  Barca lost a homegrown talent! to a team that sought to emulate Barca’s skills in developing young players.  But contrary to the whining on Las Ramblas, the Arsenal didn’t steal a player with Barca DNA; the Arsenal saw a diamond on the floor while Barca were too busy staring into their golden mirror.  What’s worse, the diamond doesn’t think the golden mirror is all that special after all.  Every year Fab’s interest in Barca fades and his commitment to the Arsenal grows.  Every year we are witness to a rising passion, a harder hitting player and a kiss of the badge that tells us the Arsenal is Fab’s home.

This puts Barca in a bad position.  Barca must try to prize Fab away; not because they need or want him, but because they lost him and haven’t been able to get him back.  They need to show they didn’t lose a homegrown player, they need to show they can develop talent (hence the DNA claim), they need to show they are a bigger team than the Arsenal; or, somehow, that B comes before A.

I suspect in the last year, Fab has come to realizes this.  In fact, his skill and leadership this year is a direct result of him finally becoming comfortable with himself, as a professional, as an Arsenal player.  Someday Fab may leave, for his swan song in his grandfather’s land, but I doubt that day is soon, nor would I begrudge him a retirement pasture.

Truly, the only threat to Fab leaving is a lack of trophies, not now, but next year.   Should the Arsenal go trophy-less this year, next year would be the big question mark as the pressure would increase.  Really, the question would be whether Arsene makes a big splash for new players and re-hauls the team next summer.  That being said, Fab is committed to at least two years because the Club committed to him.  Not winning trophies would say as much about Fab as about Arsenal.  Arsene built the team around Fab; something Barca, make no mistake, will never do.  At Club B, he’s a trophy to bring back lost glory; at the Arsenal, he is the glory.  And Fab knows it too.

-the student



  1. We are loving the gunnersl right now! The arsenal gang have named Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity as their charity of the season and are doing lots of fun and exciting stuff to help out. There is lots more info here http://www.beagoonerbeagiver.org/

  2. […] does this imaginary world -which I don’t want to occur -matter?  Well, if Fab does leave, which I don’t think he will, we need to think about the upside.  And sometimes it’s good to think about how substantial […]

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