Few tears shed as Fabregas finally joins Barcelona
The long running transfer saga is finally over as the Arsenal skipper heads home to Spain
After one of the longest transfer sagas in football history Cesc Fabregas has finally left Arsenal and rejoined his hometown club of Barcelona in a £35m deal that has been three years in the making.
The 24-year-old was paraded in front of 30,000 Spanish fans at the Camp Nou ground after finally agreeing terms with Barca and signing a five-year deal with the club.
After greeting the fans, Fabregas made it clear that he was delighted to be a Barcelona player by kissing the club badge. He then shone a light on his reasons for wanting to leave Arsenal, who have not won a trophy since 2005.
"It was hard to always come close but not win anything," said the midfielder. But he also said he had a deep affection for Arsenal. "I gave everything in the eight years I was there, but it didn't show in the trophy cabinet. That will be the biggest regret of my career," he claimed.
Fabregas also praised Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who signed him as a 16-year-old from Barcelona and helped turn him into one of the best players in the world before selling him back to the Spanish club. "I'll never have enough words to thank him for all he's done for me," said Fabregas. "If today I am here with you then it's greatly due to him. I can't express my admiration for him strongly enough, I owe it to him that I am here."
For his part Wenger insisted: "We did try to keep him but in the end we have to respect the desire of the player as well. It is very difficult to get the best out of a player, he has to be completely committed to where he is.
"If you understand one thing, it is that Cesc didn't go for financial reasons. He wanted to go back to his home city. He didn't go because he didn't love the club. He wanted to go to the town where he was educated. It is very difficult to resist that."
But despite all the kind words most observers feel that Arsenal will benefit from putting the saga behind them. BBC sports reporter Dan Roan said: "Fabregas's departure will provoke as much relief as it does disappointment among the club's fans. The way he and Barcelona bullied Arsenal into submission reflected poorly on both. Arsenal deserved better and it is now time for them to move on."
Writing on Arsenal fansite The Gunning Hawk Jeff Petterson put it another way: "A huge weight has been lifted. No longer will Arsenal be in this uncomfortable situation with this player who doesn't want to be there, but who they can ill-afford to be without."
Other observers were quick to point out that while Fabregas was a key player for Arsenal he will not be as fondly remembered as the likes of Thierry Henry, who was given a hero's reception when he returned to the Emirates earlier this month. Mike McGrath writing on the Fanhouse website talks about the "bitter taste" left by Barcelona's pursuit of the player they sold for £700,000 when he was 16, and the "air of conspiracy" around the transfer when it finally materialised.
But Barcelona have made it clear that they do not intend to let Fabregas slip through their fingers for a second time. The buyout clause in the player's contract is said to be €200m. ·
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