Cesc Fabregas is Arsenal's captain. For that very reason, he has to be sold. A captain, theoretically, should offer your club leadership and at least a vague notion of loyalty to the club. He doesn't do that. For this failing it makes sense to get rid of Fabregas the captain and the player.
The idea that Arsenal are a selling club is widespread, but probably erroneous. They have never sold a player who didn't fit into the idea that they can use the money to then provide superior replacements. Nicolas Anelka and his sale came with a £20 million profit to get over the feeling of loss, and he soon went off the rails. Marc Overmars was replaced by the superior Robert Pires, and Emmanuel Petit was eventually replaced by Gilberto Silva. Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry were only let go when they were fading, and Cesc took over admirably from Vieira. You can argue that Wenger has undervalued experience in his time, but it is wrong should anyone mistake Arsenal as a selling club.
Except for Cesc Fabregas' presence, the idea wouldn't have taken flight. Because he is so young, and because he has so often talked of a potential return to Barcelona, the idea has formed that Arsenal sell their players before their potential is realised. Only in this case could it be true, and even then there is just as much an emotional reason to leave as it is a footballing one. Fabregas would make a great Barcelona side even stronger, the pull of returning to his home is the true driving force after seven years away, rather than a pay hike. Most players say they're flattered by interest from any big club because they fancy a gaudier, more expensive house. At least Fabregas keeps his flirting to just the one club. If he was sold though, as fine a player as he is, it would do Arsenal good. Sell him, and they can focus on acquiring talent, rather than trying to keep hold of just one. Being made a cuckhold is a bad look for anyone, and it's hurting Arsenal's future.
There are more reasons to sell him. In his last season, Henry appeared to intimidate and curse his colleagues. Assured of his own brilliance he wouldn't encourage teammates to raise their games when they were struggling, but instead would simply pout at them moodily. There is a risk, if Fabregas is forced to stay, that history could repeat himself. Fabregas has already been described by Denilson as, ‘not a leader,' so it seems unlikely he'd have a glorious and productive valedictory season if he is already agitating for a move behind the scenes. He has a history of ill-discipline, most notably resulting in Phil Brown reporting him for spitting at Brian Horton, and his petulance isn't improving. This season, after making doe eyes at and wearing the kit of Barcelona after wining the World Cup, has been his worst season for Arsenal since he became a regular. The signs are there, and it would be foolish not to take action as a result.
It's worth considering if this dip in form is just because of homesickness or something more physical. This last season was one interrupted by a number of hamstring injuries. Ryan Giggs overcame his, but many players, such as Michael Owen, have not. It is utterly plausible that for Fabregas, the injuries will only come more frequently. The idea that Arsenal have already seen the best of him is not unreasonable.
For a club credited with financial prudence, it represents a good time to sell, too. Barcelona have announced that they have £40 million plus whatever they raise from sales to spend. From Arsenal's point of view, when the majority of the windfall from selling Highbury has come through, now is the chance to capitalise to reinvest in a team that the board and Wenger acknowledge needs overhauling. The £35 million they would receive coupled with existing funds would be enough to replace Fabregas, buy a more effective striker to replace the ineffective Nicklas Bendtner (although he is ruddy mega in his head), and inject some experience into a shoddy back four. A stronger eleven with no moody Catalan superstar is, if Wenger is finally prepared to be ruthless, the better option.
Alexander Netherton is an editor at Surreal Football