Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez failed miserably at Barcelona


In football, talent is not all. Continuity, discipline, attitude and one team’s reaction to criticism all work in conjunction to make a team successful. Clubs often like to spew out boatloads of money to talented egomaniacs to form super teams that more often than not leave fan bases aghast.

Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City are prime examples. Barcelona has built their reputation on taking calculated risks when it comes to incoming transfers. Rarely do you see players struggle for extended periods of time. One thing upper management doesn’t get enough credit for is bringing in system players, players that understand the intricacies of the Barca tiki-taka style. Despite the impeccable record of bringing on worthwhile players, there have been two formalities in players that never lived up to their expectation. 

Summer 2011: Tough decisions awaited the board as the summer transfer window began. Barcelona wanted to add depth in the midfield due to the grueling amount of minutes logged by the trio in the middle, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets, along with more quality on the wing to coexist with Lionel Messi in the middle. Players available? Juan Mata, Samir Nasri, Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and former La Masia standout Cesc Fabregas. 

Former Arsenal extraordinaire Fabregas joined Barcelona that summer, a transfer that seemed apropos for the type of player they wanted, one who understood the Barca system. It looked to be the perfect reunion for the two parties. According to football talk, statistics showed that during the five years prior to joining the blaugrana, Cesc created more chances for teammates and scored more goals than Xavi and Iniesta in that same time span. 

Along with Cesc came a young Chilean boy by the name of Alexis Sanchez. The blooming wing player was considered by many to be the star of the transfer window rounded out the summer for Barcelona leaving cules drooling for the start of the new season.

During Fabregas’ inaugural season with the blaugrana he contributed significantly scoring 15 goals, which was ahead of Xavi and Iniesta along with 20 assists second most on the team, capping a stellar campaign.

Alexis on the other hand received high acclaim by his manager prior to the start of the season "Sánchez is very young," said manager Pep Guardiola "He can play in all three attacking positions, he shows intense defensive skills, he's direct and from what I've been told, he's a very nice kid." Despite the praise, Alexis was mired with short-term injuries for most of his first season not being able to prove his worth to the aficionados.

Despite the impressive numbers put forth by Fabregas, the biggest con to his play were his inconsistent starts. More often than not his form would dip significantly in the second half of games. Whether it was for a lack of focus or just poor fitness and a shortage of stamina Cesc could rarely leave his stamp on a full 90. 

Much could be contributed to the fact Cesc had to deal with managerial changes, different systems but he only has himself to blame for not taking a strangle hold of the false center forward position. I must admit, I did view Cesc as an integral part of this team for many years but a lot should be made for the three-headed monster Barcelona already had established in the midfield which did just enough to keep Fabregas grounded. Fabregas just saw himself losing ground in the pecking order of the Barca midfield and simply wanted a one-way trip back to London.

As for Alexis Sanchez, even though he had a rather solid start to his campaign with the Blaugrana with 16 goals and seven assists his form would always be bogged down with terrible play, often doing too much on his own rather than allowing his midfield to play him open. He would miss way too many clear chances causing fans to lose patience sooner rather than later with the outside forward. 

The experiment just never worked out for Barca and Alexis, especially as the club noticed a glaring absence at the forward position. As a result, they brought in Luis Suarez, moved Lionel Messi over to the right flank. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

It often takes more than talent to thrive at Barcelona. Sometimes players are unable to fill a mold that is available to satisfy. Nothing should be taken away from these two world-class talents in Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas. 

Barcelona is a cutthroat club and if you aren’t working to the required standard, only one thing is inevitable: You will be replaced.

Let's hope Paul Pogba and Arda Turan are ready for the challenge should they complete their move to the Camp Nou.

Published by Alexander Del Valle. Follow him on Twitter @AlexanderDelV

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