Cesc Fabregas has revealed that Arsene Wenger turned down the chance to re-sign him before he ultimately moved to Chelsea, citing that the manager was “hurt” by his departure from Arsenal.
Cesc Fabregas left the Gunners to re-join Barcelona in 2011, but when he failed to make an impact in Spain, he wanted to return to the Premier League.
Under the terms of his Barca contract, Arsenal had the option to take him back, but Wenger opted not to, as the club already had several players in his position.
Fabregas said that Wenger was also hurt by the way he had left.
Fabregas also spoke about his decision to leave Arsenal in the first place, saying that he felt he should have waited longer before moving.
He admits that he became frustrated at not winning silverware with the Gunners, and that the biggest regret of his career is not winning the Champions League final in 2006, when he was just 18.
Fabregas says that he hopes Wenger knows how much he gave to Arsenal, but that not lifting a trophy as captain is something that will always be in his heart.
Speaking on Kammy and Ben’s Proper Football Podcast, the 35-year-old said: “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 notified 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.”
On leaving Arsenal, Fabregas said, “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.
“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 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 biggest regret of my career will always be not winning that Champions League final (in 2006) that we were so, so close. The first ever, or the only Champions League final that Arsenal has ever played and I was only 18. And we were so close.
“Also, not lifting a trophy as an Arsenal captain was something that will always be in my heart because I gave so much. I exhausted myself so much. I hope Arsene knows what I gave for the club, emotionally and physically, and in terms of everything.
“I feel sometimes… it’s just because not lifting anything, it can feel a little bit like ‘Oh, yeah, he was really good, but nothing happened.’ Inside of you, it gives you a little bit of sadness in a way, of regrets. Not because I didn’t give my all, which I did and I think I overdid it. But yeah, not lifting a trophy – an important one – because obviously the FA Cup… You know, a trophy is a trophy and it’s great, but making it to the next level ,you need to win a major, major trophy.”
Fabregas has high hopes for the current Arsenal team, and believes that they can win the Premier League title.
He identified with the current crop of players, saying that they are humble and want to work hard. He sees similarities between himself and the likes of Martinelli, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, and Saka.
Fabregas recently visited Arsenal’s training ground to help coach Jack Wilshere train the under-18s.