Updates from Sunday, June 15
“When I decided that my time at Barcelona had ended, I looked for the best option for me,” Fábregas explained. “Arsenal was the first option, for contractual reasons. There was a clause that gave them the right to decide. We spoke to Wenger and he said that the space was very well filled by Mesut Özil and it was hard to find a place for both of us in the team.”
Fábregas continued: “I wanted to go back to the Premier League and I had to think about what my options were then. I had many very good offers, the logical options. I spoke to José Mourinho and he told me that he wanted me there. He convinced me very, very quickly. He told me what I wanted to hear; he won me over and convinced me. It was very quick. I am very happy, very satisfied and I think it will all go phenomenally well.”
During his years at Arsenal, it was no secret that Cesc Fabregas dreamed of returning to his childhood club of Barcelona. But after three years with the Catalan side, Fabregas is moving on again, signing with Chelsea.
Barcelona announced the news Thursday:
FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of player Cesc Fabregas to the English club. FC Barcelona wishes to publicly thank Cesc Fabregas for his professionalism and dedication during his years at the Club, which will always be his home, and to wish him all the very best for the future.
Chelsea's official site added that it's a five-year deal and he'll wear No. 4. It also shared some of Fabregas' comments:
I do feel that I have unfinished business in the Premier League and now is the right time to return.
I considered all the other offers very carefully and I firmly believe that Chelsea is the best choice. They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies. They have an amazing squad of players and an incredible manager. I am fully committed to this team and I can't wait to start playing.
At times, Fabregas seemed frustrated with his role at Barcelona, where he played as a central midfielder, winger and even an occasional striker in the team's false-nine role but was never featured in any spot. He did start a large number of games for Barca again this year, however.
Perhaps Barcelona's recent strife had something to do with Fabregas' desire to depart. Or perhaps he simply decided a change was needed in his career. Or, as Mark Doyle of Goal.com noted, perhaps he doesn't appreciate the standards by which he is judged:
Fabregas has grown increasingly frustrated by the sense that he is judged by a higher set of standards than other players because he left as a teenager. He feels that the harder he tries, the worse the situation becomes. The more he strives to feel at home, the more out of place he appears to be. He is everywhere and nowhere all at once, a victim of his own versatility. This is perhaps one prodigal son that should never have returned.
Whatever the case may be, it's still a bit surprising that he would leave now, as he actually started more games for Barca this year than either Xavi or Andres Iniesta in La Liga play and seemed the heir apparent to the 34-year-old Xavi in the Barcelona midfield.
He earned a sparkling 7.31 average match rating from WhoScored.com in La Liga play this year.
Still, Fabregas' form has dipped later in the season, perhaps as he has worn himself out with his style of play. At Barcelona, has Fabregas tried to do too much?
In his first two years, his managers certainly thought so, as Fabregas said to Doyle:
I came to Barca from a team where I was captain and had all the balls passed through me. I used to play where I thought I could do more damage until Pep [Guardiola] and Tito [Vilanova] told me that was my problem. That view was right because I have Xavi, Iniesta and [Lionel] Messi playing ahead of me.
Still, in three years with the Catalan giants, whatever role Fabregas played, he proved his worth.
But perhaps Fabregas wanted more consistency in a role than the Catalans were willing to offer. He's much better playing centrally as a midfielder, either in the hole behind a center forward or as a deep-lying playmaker next to a more defensive-minded player. When he played further up the pitch for Arsenal in his last two seasons with the club, he scored 28 goals and added 30 assists.
In other words, when playing in his preferred positions he's one of the best players in the world. At Barca, that position isn't always available.
Just 27 years old, Fabregas is in his prime and should have several seasons of elite play left in him for Chelsea. Things may not have worked out with Barcelona as he envisioned when he joined the club three summers ago, but his signing by Chelsea could likely turn out to be this transfer period's most important piece of business.