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Cesc Fabregas and kissing the badge

Much has been made today of Cesc Fabregas kissing Barcelona’s crest as he was unveiled in the Catalan shirt for the first time today, or for the first time since Puyol covered him in the famous strip after Spain’s World Cup success last year.

Fabregas gives photographers the money shot

So is kissing the badge something to get riled up over or not? In this case potentially. Fabregas and Fernando Torres for example were different breeds. For a start, though Cesc was a Barcelona lad, he left the club at 16 and has played all his senior years as a footballer for the red and white of Arsenal.

In that time he has been unlucky not to have won more trophies, but has been part of massive success as a Spanish squad member, played in a Champions League final and been involved in a team that has played some of the best football on the planet.

Without rose-tinted glasses, Liverpool fans will have realised that Torres never supported Liverpool, but loved the club not only for the way he was treated, but presumably for the fact he settled so well. A striker scoring goals is more likely to feel loved and strike up a rapport with fans. In his last season Torres was struggling for form and fitness and the disenchantment grew.

Speaking after being unveiled at Chelsea, Torres said: “I never once kissed the Liverpool badge. Never. And I never kissed the Atletico Madrid badge, even though I was one of their biggest fans.

Torres kisses, er, bites the Liverpool badge

“Some players do it within five minutes of joining a new club. That’s their way. But it’s not mine. Football is different these days. Players come and go. That is why, for me, much of the romance has gone out of the game. So no kissing from me.

All of which is fair. He came to Liverpool, played well, scored goals, but saw it as a job, a job in which as a prized employee he deserved to be recognised with the appropriate recognition, or in this case silverware.

Meanwhile Fabregas apologised to fans today: “I’m disappointed and upset about it because I have had a great relationship with the fans over the years. It took time to build this and I’m disappointed I could lose some of them.

“All I have are words of gratitude. I’ll never forget what they have done for me, I gave absolutely everything to the club and I think they know that but it was the right time to come back here.”

And to be fair he probably means it. If, as he says, he has been denied the chance to talk about leaving, then it must be tough not to say goodbye to the fans who have helped support him for eight years and for whom he captained the club. But then the manner in which he appears to have courted the move, means it’s unfair to criticise Arsenal for forbidding him to speak about leaving before a contract was signed.

But as for kissing the badge on day one, it was probably something he was cajoled into doing by photographers. So maybe it doesn’t mean anything. But you have to wonder how Barcelona fans feel. This was, after all, a player who left them at 16 for a foreign country and for whom they are having to pay up to £40m for just to have him back, for a team that in all honesty doesn’t need him.

So kissing the badge counts for little. Perhaps if you’re born in a city and play out your days there. In the Premiership era players like Gerrard, Neville, Shearer are rarities and should be embraced for keeping a sense of the local feel about a club. For them the shirt matters most, but who cares as long as you’re winning?

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