At half time during the first leg of the Super Copa, the official announcement of Cesc Fabregas’ transfer from Arsenal FC to his childhood club FC Barcelona was made.
Before I continue I want all to be aware of the fact that I am an Arsenal fan. If anyone reading this has a problem with an Arsenal fan writing on a Barca blog you can stop reading now, and don’t waste your time commenting. I also want it to be known that the words below are my thoughts and do not reflect the opinions of the rest of the staff here at BarcaBlaugranes.
This piece serves a dual purpose as a farewell and a welcome to a truly world class player. Cesc Fabregas was the captain of my favorite team, my favorite player. He left his (old) new club as a 16 year old to join Arsenal in 2003 and became the youngest player ever to make an appearance for the club and a couple months later the youngest first team goal scorer. Fabregas’ emergence in 2004 made it clear at that point that the young midfielder would be a future superstar.
During his time at Arsenal, he made 303 appearances. He gave his full effort in all of them scoring 57 goals, and making 100 assists in his time there. In his time there he became one of the world’s best midfielders. Regrettably for fans and of course for the player himself, Cesc was never able to lift a trophy for Arsenal as captain, and leaves the club with just an FA Cup trophy to his name from 2005.
I never had a doubt about his love for Arsenal. He stayed with the club for 8 years and gave his all to achieve success with the club, being the most influential player often times even through seasons plagued with injury. He wanted desperately to win with Arsenal but the draw of returning home, to his family, his friends, his idol Pep, to success at his boyhood club was obviously very strong. If we fans could see that, with the emergence of Thiago, the window of opportunity was closing for Cesc to move to Barca, surely he could too.
The Guardian’s Sid Lowe reported that Cesc left London with tears in his eyes. I read quotes from his presentation on Monday that brought tears to my eyes.
Cesc spoke about his very emotional final meeting with "father figure," Arsene Wenger.
"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. If it was not for him I would not be here today to live my dream. I will never have enough words to say how grateful I am. I went from being a boy to a man and they gave me absolutely everything in football. I have mixed emotions. Life goes on: Arsenal will always be there, the fans will always be there. Players come and go; the club will always be bigger than them."
About being so close (yet so far) to winning with Arsenal:
"At Arsenal, there were finals and semi-finals but we always lacked that little extra push to win something. That was hard to take. It was not that we didn't win titles it was that we kept going through the same routine, the same things happening to us and us messing up. I gave everything for Arsenal but it didn't show in the [trophy] cabinet because I only won one FA Cup. That is the biggest regret I will have in my career – not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain."
It wasn’t because of some sort of falling out with Wenger, hatred for Arsenal, or money that Cesc left. It was for love of Barca and ambition. Sadly he didn’t feel he could fulfill that ambition at Arsenal. The 6 years of coming so close and having trophies slip from his fingers time and time again has obviously played on his mind. So much effort with so little fruitage. In spite of all of his effort he still takes responsibility for Arsenal’s failures. That is more than can be said about some who leave the club or try to, and seem to find blame for everyone but themselves.
He wanted to say a proper goodbye to the fans of his former club, but was asked by the club not to make any comments during this summer.
"I will have time to talk about [my departure]. I am sure I will do an interview especially for them [the Arsenal fans] at some stage," he said. "I am sorry I couldn't say anything for the last two and half months, Arsenal would not allow me to talk, I was disappointed and upset about that but it had to be like that. I still have, personally, a great relationship with them and I am disappointed to have maybe lost [the affection of] some of the fans."
So in the end he was respecting Arsenals wishes. Always a respectful servant of the club. He always showed class in representing Arsenal, I have no doubt that he will do the same for FC Barcelona. This transfer has been a long time coming, I can’t begrudge his desire to go back home.
He tweeted "To all Gunners: A big thank you for your unconditional support during the last 8 yrs. I will always carry you in my heart!"
I could go on with the sappy sad stuff forever, but it’s best I move on to welcoming Barca’s shiny new signing to the club. Luckily for me and unlike most Gooners I also follow and support Barca.
Now from a more Cule perspective: The prodigal son has returned! The transfer saga is over and it’s official Cesc Fabregas is an FC Barcelona player. He was always a hard worker at his previous and no doubt will continue to work hard now that he has achieved his dream move to Barca.
For Cules he tweeted "To the Cules: Thanks for the impressive welcome, to all who came to the stadium and for the messages! It has been very special."
We all know that Cesc was a youth product of La Masia, spending six years there from age 10 to age 16 when he caught the eye of Arsenal scouts and left the club. He had always had a great desire to play for FC Barcelona, but at the time of his departure it was likely the best thing for him to leave so that he could develop into the world class player that he is today.
"I waited many days, months and years for this moment," Fabregas told the fans. "It is a very special day. I return home after eight years. I know I disappointed many of you when I left, but I'm back for the challenge of my life. I hope to leave good memories."He understands that some cules are upset that he left in the first place, so he promises to give everything in whatever capacity he can; "it’s not easy to have confidence again in someone who left the club at youth level."
He is truly grateful for the effort that Barca had put into getting this transfer done. He said, "I want to thank all the people involved, from President Sandro Rosell, to Josep Guardiola, who has been very important to me." Fabregas knows that some are disappointed that he left all those years ago. He’s happy for a new start at Barca, the club that he has always loved.
Cesc will take up the #4 shirt that was once worn by his idol Pep Guardiola. He thanked Thiago Alcantara for allowing him to wear that shirt.
FC Barcelona are gaining a world class player. Truly a class act who loves the club. The fee they had to pay for him was not a small sum, a quoted £29.8 million now and £5.2 million in variable add-ons, but for a player of Cesc’s caliber in this market it’s an incredible steal. He was arguably the best central midfielder outside of Barcelona (until now of course).
He may not be immediately necessary but if we learned anything from the first leg of the Super Copa Thiago is really not quite ready yet. Cesc may not be in for a spot on the first team but you can’t really turn down that kind of quality. Personally I’d rather have an embarrassment of riches than have a regular old embarrassment.
So welcome (back) Cesc Fabregas to FC Barcelona!
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