Arsene Wenger has helped to develop lots of star players through the Arsenal academy, but surely one of the best and most successful was the Spaniard Cesc Fabregas who was cruelly tapped up by Barcelona too early in his young career. But at least Wenger sensibly inserted a buy-back clause into the transfer agreement in case things didn’t work out in Fabregas’ hometown.
But as Fabregas himself revealed yesterday, when Barcelona gave Arsenal the contractual first refusal on their ex-captain, they didn’t even respond to the offer! Cesc said: “I feel very attached, even now, to Arsenal. My feelings for the club, well I don’t have to repeat myself, every single time we play against them, because it’s known. Whoever doesn’t believe me, or doesn’t feel it is this way, is not right. I know how I feel, my family does, and that’s all that matters to me.
Once I made the decision to leave Barcelona, Arsenal had the first option, and Barcelona had the obligation to contact Arsenal first. Then they had a week to basically respond yes or no to the buy-out clause.
“I knew Chelsea were on the side, among other clubs, but after I spoke to [Jose] Mourinho in the meantime he convinced me that it was a great place to come. The week passed, Arsenal never responded, never contacted me either, so I took it as them having enough players in their squad, so I made my move to Chelsea.
“Because I felt they wanted me the most, Jose spoke to me in a way that not many have spoken to me before, and I knew what he wanted from me. He motivated me so much in that meeting that my choice was very easy.
“I love Arsene, the man. I love him of course as a coach too. This is a decision he made. I always said that he’s like a father to me, and he will always be.”
At the time there were many Arsenal fans that were outraged when Wenger didn’t recall his prodigal son, especially as we all knew that Santi Cazorla was getting on in years and we had no ready-made replacement. Of course Cesc won two League titles with Chelsea but I am sure Arsenal could have achieved so much more with Cesc in our problem midfield area over the last few years. I really regret Wenger not taking up the offer, and I hope Arsene does as well.