Cesc Fabregas Returns to Barcelona
So the longest most arduous transfer in the history of football finally came to an end on Monday with the official confirmation that Cesc Fabregas was once more an FC Barcelona player. The 24-year-old Spanish international and World Cup Winner left Barcelona aged just 16 to play with Arsenal, fearing that he would not get the chance to shine amidst the galaxy of stars already lighting up Camp Nou on a regular basis.
His arrival in London couldn't have been better timed. With Patrick Viera ending his tenure at the helm of Arsenal FC, the young Fabregas was allowed to fill his boots despite his precocious years. For 8 years Fabregas pulled the strings in the Arsenal midfield, becoming a cult figure for the club and leading the world in number of assists for the last five years in a row.
Despite his development into one of the world's very best midfielders his years in London co-incided with the longest barren spell of trophies under Arsene Wenger, who has been struggling to compete in the Premier League ever since the likes of Chelsea and Man City became two of the world's richest clubs overnight. His growing frustration at Arsenal and increasingly louder calls by his former team mates, family and of course his hero, Pep Guardiola, meant the lure of returning home became too much - and Arsenal reluctantly allowed a deal to happen after three or more years of rejecting what they considered derisory offers for their star player.
The exact amount of the fee is being reported differently by both clubs, and is complicated by several add ons. What is sure is that Fabregas completed his medical on Monday and issued the following statement:
"I have waited a long time for this moment. It's a very special day. I know that many of you were disappointed when I left but I am here to take up the greatest challenge of my life. After eight years away I hope to leave you all with many great memories."
He also had some fond words for his old club.
"Wenger is very special and is like a second father for me. I can never thank him for all he has given me. If I am here today it is largely thanks to him. I have a special relationship with Wenger and he didn't want me to go for 29, nor 40 or 80 million. He always made that clear but common sense prevailed. I will never forget what he has done for me."
"I couldn't even talk when I wanted to say how grateful I was for what he has done to me, so I had to send a message afterwards saying thanks for everything... I was very, very sad to be leaving. I spent a third of my life there – eight years. That is the biggest regret I will have in my career – not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain."