Unhappiness, for various reasons, happens for people who play for Barcelona as well. A rising face of frustration in recent weeks is Cesc Fabregas, who has started in all three La Liga matches for the club but found himself substituted in all of them, making him feel unsatisfied with his current role at the club.

Problem? Fabregas is competing with Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Alex Song for the three positions in the midfield for Barcelona. There’s also the returning Thiago Alcantara to be “wary” of, although the youngster didn’t make the kind of leap many expected him to last season, and finding a place among all these talented players is going to be twice as hard coming back from injury.

Last season Fabregas, like Iniesta, got chances to play in one of the positions in the front 3, mostly when both David Villa and Pedro were out. But Pedro started the season in excellent form, scoring two goals in the five official matches the club has had so far. Alexis Sanchez is the other player who seems to have a cemented spot up front, although he hasn’t been at his best early this year. Messi? An unmovable rock, although switching him to the right and giving Fabregas the central role, like he played for Spain in the Euro this summer might be an idea.

But Fabregas, despite the complaining, has simply played badly in all three appearances, or being less noticeable at best. When you’re a defensive midfielder like Busquets or Song, you can live with that. But Fabregas is usually the most attacking of the midfield trio, and his finishing and passing has been way off the mark so far this season, giving both Iniesta and Xavi, if they didn’t already have it, a big edge when it comes to the players Vilanova would like to see playing.

Everybody likes to play every minute of the season. I’ve always said that I play for the best team in the world, but I came here to compete, to learn and enjoy, not to sit wracking my brains. The manager knows what I can offer. But across the three positions that I can play, I am competing with the three best players in the world (Messi, Xavi, Iniesta). 

I’m delighted to be a part of this team but when a coach tells me I have to go, I’ll go. But I will not make it easy for him to do so, by any means. I will keep going, looking forward to the time that things change. I came here to see out my career.

For now, like in a certain stage of the Euro, Fabregas seems like the easy man to bench or take out of the game. His versatility makes him easy to place and plug holes, but it usually means there’s someone better, or at least in better form at the moment, to throw in instead of him. Until he starts taking advantage of the situations he seems to mess up quite often early this season, he’ll remain the man Vilanova has the easiest time giving up on.

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