With the grim outlook of the season, the idea of Cesc leaving to go back to his home of Barcelona is no longer a nightmare easily dismissed. Cesc leaving is slowly bordering on an inevitable occurrence; and if this happens, how will Arsenal recover? There is no denying Cesc is the center of Arsenal’s attack, the man which Arsenal’s style lives or dies based on his performance. If Cesc does decide to leave, can he be replaced? Within the current squad, there are many players that are in the Cesc mold; Denilson, Bischoff, Ramsey, Wilshire, Merida and (arguably) Diaby or Rosicky. All of these players have shown varying levels of potential, but would they be able to replace Cesc?
If Fabregas was to leave next, the most obvious first choice is Denilson. He has shown an aptitude for going forward with 2 goals and 3 assists* already this year, but What seems to be his weakness is his composure. When Denilson gets flustered, his passing and tackling will both sharply decrease leading to wasted possession and needless penalties. Denilson is the best short term solution; but is he the greatest long term solution?
Arsenal have thre rising stars in Welshman Aaron Ramsey and Englishman Jack Wilshire, and Spaniard Fran Merida Perez. All three have shown tremendous potential to be legends for Arsenal. The question is which can fulfill Cesc’s role down the road? Out of the three, Ramsey has shown to be the greatest defensively. In this writer’s opinion, Ramsey’s skill set, athleticism, and motor are better suited to take over Viera’s position instead of Cesc’s. That leaves Wilshire and Merida. Both have the physical and technical abilities to play ACM for Arsenal in 2-3 years. Merida has already had experience within competitive football, while the majority Wilshire’s experience has been limited to only reserve matches. At this current moment, between the two, there is no definite evidence to tell which one would better fulfill the position. But, in my opinion, jack Wilshire would be the better choice. Merida, while a very good player, does not possess the intangibles of leadership and presence that Jack Wilshire has.
The wild cards of the squad are newly signed Portugese midfielder Amaury Bischoff, French midfielder Abou Diaby, and Czech winger Tomáš Rosický. Rosicky, if able to stay healthy, would be able to hold Cesc’s position. Playing the main provider is not new to Tomas; he plays the same position for the Czech Republic. While Rosicky would be a solid choice for the position, he is better suited for the wings than the center of the park. Bischoff is an interesting prospect. He was Diego’s backup at Werder Bremen, pointing to Amuary being a capable attacking midfielder. While this may be true, Bischoff is injury prone and unknown. What Arsenal needs in the middle is stability, ruling out the Portuguese international. Lastly, there is Abou Diaby. He was seen at the successor for Flamini by many fans this year, a reincarnated Patrick Viera. But is he better suited for an attacking position instead of a defensive one? Diaby seems so far to be a tweener; he has all the physical tools to be a great bruiser, but he is hesitant and his tackling is suspect. Diaby also possesses great instincts for the goal and an ability to go forward, but is he ready to take the responsibility required to handle the stress involved with being the heart of the team?
If Cesc does leave, Denilson will be the bandaid for the team. While he will be able to perform up to standards, the true successor will be Jack Wilshire. He has everything Arsenal would need from him, pointing to this Englishman of 16 as the future of the club.
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*= Information from ESPNSoccernet.