Cesc Fabregas reveals how Wenger couldn’t get over the fact that he left Arsenal F.C. for F.C. Barcelona and later ignored him, which prompted him to join Chelsea F.C.
At the age of 16, Fabregas left the Barca academy to sign with the Gunners. He later rose to fame among Arsenal F.C. fans and was named club captain.
Cesc Fabregas decided to re-join his boyhood club after eight seasons with the first team, which started a trend of prominent players quitting Wenger’s squad.
Wenger had the right of first refusal, but the midfielder finally chose to join London rivals Chelsea after Wenger turned down his request.
The 35-year-old said on Kammy and Ben’s Proper Football Podcast: ‘I really wanted to go back to the Premier League.
‘In the contract when I signed for Barcelona we said that, after I leave, Arsenal will have the first option. They had a week to respond. So obviously we approached Arsenal, we said “listen I’m leaving Barcelona and by law, you have a week to decide if you want to take me back or not.”
‘For a week I couldn’t talk to anyone (else). We noticed (sic) Arsenal, Arsene, everyone, so after a week we called Arsene and he said he’d thought about it and he said they already had a lot of players in my position like Mesut Ozil… Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and he said to fit me in he would have to play someone out and this could create, you know… I think also he was a little bit hurt… by how I left and everything.
‘I don’t hold anything bad because it’s their right, their decision and they could do what they wanted.’
‘I had a few options and one of them was Chelsea. I spoke to Mourinho, I met him. He told me things that were very nice to hear. He wanted me to be the leader of that team. It just felt right.’
Fabregas discussed his decision to leave the Emirates in the first place and why he now feels it was too soon. Cesc Fabregas has recently returned to Arsenal to assist academy coach Jack Wilshere in training the Under-18s.
‘I always said it was the most difficult decision. In my heart, it was the easiest decision in a way because of what I had in my past, because I was always a supporter and it was my dream to play for Barcelona first team since I was a child.
But it was really hard because Arsenal gave me so, so, so much and I felt so loved by the whole club, by the fans. The trust that they had given me from a very, very young age… it was super, super hard for me to have to go to Arsene, to the guy that gave me everything, to actually say, “please, I want to go back home.”
If it wasn’t Barcelona, for sure, I would have stayed at Arsenal. No matter what.’
‘I think timing is always so important in football. Looking back now, probably I should have waited a little bit more until Xavi faded a little bit more – and just go there and take over his place.
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Because of the frustration of so many years not winning at Arsenal and feeling that sometimes the club was not going through the line, or making really good signings to be super competitive in the Champions League and the (Premier) League, I just felt I was draining myself because I was giving so much and playing 60 games a season and never resting.
‘Emotionally, it just affected me quite a lot. And then seeing everyone winning in Barcelona, and playing so beautifully and Pep calling me and texting me and…”I want to do this, I want to play 3-4-3, to play all of you together and blah, blah, blah.” Everything together got the best out of me and I just decided it was the next step for me.’
‘He (Guardiola) was a really big influence because he was my idol when I was very young. I wear number 4 because of him. I played in his position when I was in the academy of Barcelona. So, he was a big influence for me. And when your idol, your hero, calls you and then you see what beautiful football they’re playing, and there’s so many friends of yours playing there… But yeah, he was very important, of course.’
The present squad, however, may succeed where he failed, in his opinion.
When asked if Arsenal can win the Premier League title, he responded: ‘yes, I really hope so because I feel a bit identified with this group of players – with the Odegaards, the Sakas, Martinellis, Smith Rowes. I can see myself in their eyes…I was at the training ground recently and I saw them and they’re super good kids. Humble, they want to work hard.
‘There is a lot of chemistry between them and we really had that. It’s just once we were getting into March… April, March, it was always [at] that moment where we couldn’t keep up because of injuries.’