"He'll never be a starter," some critics said of Cesc Fabregas' move to Barcelona in August. "Maybe he'll play some low-level Copa del Rey matches so some players can rest, but that's about it."
He's just not good enough, they insisted. Not for Barcelona.
As though Barcelona only wanted him as a £35 million sub. As though Barcelona just wanted to step on Arsenal's toes. As though they only fought so eagerly for Fabregas to make his dreams come true and to put a smile on his face.
However, such predictions have hardly panned out, haven't they?
In the playmaker's first match for Barcelona, he already made his mark in aiding new teammate Lionel Messi's winning goal in the 87th minute of dramatic and physical second leg of the Spanish Supercup.
Since then, he's started in both of Barcelona's first two league matches, scoring in both appearances and recording a goal and an assist in the 5-0 thumping of Villarreal on opening day.
And in a display of utter confidence in the 24-year-old's talent, Barca boss Pep Guardiola handed Fabregas an early sub in what is widely regarded the toughest match of this year's Champions League group stage campaign for the Spanish side, as Andres Iniesta was pulled with injury concerns against AC Milan.
Critics scoffed when they heard the valuation assigned to Fabregas by his former club during the summer transfer window. After weeks of negotiations, Barcelona managed to reduce those figures significantly before completing the deal.
However, looking back, Barca vice president Josep Bartomeu wonders if those estimates weren't so far off after all.
“After seeing the work he’s done since his arrival, it is true that Cesc meets the €60 million valuation Arsenal initially demanded,” Bartomeu said.
He added: "The kid is demonstrating a high level and quality...the transfer was very good."
At this early point in Barcelona's campaign, injury troubles are already beginning to plague their starting lineup, with Iniesta now revealed to have suffered a torn hamstring and newly acquired Alexis Sanchez out for several weeks.
For that reason, it seems clear Fabregas will continue to feature for Barcelona in big matches against Europe's toughest opponents as the months go on.
Fabregas does indeed have a place on Barcelona's squad, no matter what the naysayers may have thought just weeks ago.
And much to his delight, he's already won more trophies with them than he ever did with Arsenal.
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