Any reasonable man could only be happy for Cesc Fabregas. He has gotten his wish- a move back home, to play for the best team in the world, the best team many of us have ever seen.
As an Arsenal fan, however, his departure is a sad moment. It sums up Arsenal's current status as a selling club- developing talent, then feeding it to the big boys.
Before, Arsene Wenger got the best out of his big players before they moved on. Overmars, Petit, Vieira, Henry. Their best years were at Arsenal.
Cesc Fabregas is only 24. At Arsenal, the total reward for his endeavours, in trophy terms, is a solitary FA Cup, won in flukey fashion against Manchester United in 2005.
Few would deny that he is moving on to better things, even if he might have to sit on the bench for a while. In fact, considering his recent injury-plagued seasons, some bench time may be the very best thing for Cesc at the moment.
He goes from being Arsenal's top dog to another mega-talented cog in the well-oiled Barca machine.
Fabregas may well, in the final analysis, be seen as the greatest player who ever played for Arsenal. The lack of success at the club during his time there is not down to Fabregas. In a cruel twist of fate, his best years at Arsenal came at a time when the club could not afford to spend substantial amounts of money.
Arsenal's other recent midfield great, Vieira, left weighed down with medals. But he played with Bergkamp, Petit, Overmars, Henry, the old back four, Seaman, Ljungberg, Pires, Gilberto, Campbell... throughout his Arsenal career, Vieira was a big character in a team of big characters.
Fabregas was blooded alongside Gilberto and Vieira in the 04/05 season. After that season, Vieira left, and from then on, experienced players were sold, and not brought in. By 07/08, Fabregas was the team's de facto leader, despite his youth. The squad was now so light on leaders that the mentally fragile William Gallas was given the armband. This ended in well-documented disaster, and Fabregas was made captain in 08/09.
For the last three seasons, Fabregas has been asked to carry some fairly mediocre players. Patrick Vieira never had to do that. He fought admirably for the cause, but you can't help feeling depressed over the last few years. One of the finest midfielders in the world, but without a team worthy of his talent. The last good partner he had was Flamini (07/08). Maybe Diarra could have complimented him well, but Wenger ditched him, even in the knowledge that Flamini was likely to leave on a free that summer. And when Xabi Alonso wanted to join Arsenal at the start of 08/09, the move collapsed because of some trademark Arsenal penny-pinching. Missed opportunities abound. Fabregas has had some very kind words for Wenger, but I think the manager let his best player down.
It has been an extended period of transition- one still ongoing- and whatever Wenger's public proclamations, the club's main priority has been to qualify every year for the Champions League.
They have done so. Without Fabregas, this would not have been the case. Will it continue to be the case, now that he's gone?