Jose Mourinho has admitted he was surprised at being able to sign Cesc Fabregas; not because he thought the Spain international would only go to Arsenal, but because he thought he would never leave Barcelona.
Chelsea’s manager was full of praise for the 27-year-old after some impressive pre-season displays for the Stamford Bridge club and even went so far as to describe him as the “missing piece” for the Blues ahead of next season.
"I always thought Cesc would stay a Barcelona player,” he told reporters after a 3-0 friendly defeat to Werder Bremen on Sunday.
“It was him feeling so strongly about coming back to English football, a bit like me. I was in a big club, Real Madrid, and wanted to be back.
"He was at a big club, Barcelona, and wanted to be back. When we heard that he wanted to come back to London, we knew he was the last one we wanted."
Fabregas was something of a talisman for Arsenal when he was their captain and was probably the most effective attacking midfielder in the Premier League while at the Gunners. Mourinho has certainly been impressed by Fabregas from what he has seen so far this pre-season and all but declared he would be the focus point of the team’s attacking play because of the talents he brings to the table.
Arsene Wenger built his team around Fabregas’ passing ability and eye for a goal in the final third, before the youngster demanded a move to his former club in 2011, and it seems as though Mourinho has come to realise he will have to do something similar.
"I see him everywhere, because he can play everywhere,” said Mourinho when quizzed over where he planned to deploy the man he purchased this summer for £30million.
“His best quality is the speed at which he analyses the game and executes. He's very intelligent. And gives you goals.
“[Fabregas is] the missing piece of our engine. He has a football brain we need in our team. All the players have a fantastic feeling around Cesc. They really feel that he sees football too fast.
“It is so rare that he loses the ball or makes a wrong decision. He can accelerate the intensity of the game, or he can reduce it."
Mourinho’s words will not be pleasing hearing for Arsenal fans, many of who were angered at the club’s refusal to take up the first refusal option they had written into the deal that took Fabregas to Barcelona from Emirates Stadium.
Fabregas admitted his desire was to re-join the north London club where he made his name, but that he chose the best offer from the capital after Wenger made it clear he would not be paying the money for his former charge.
Not enough room for Cesc
The £30million signing of Alexis Sanchez was already in the pipeline and last summer’s club-record £42million purchase of Mesut Özil meant that the transfer budget was already being squeezed and the German was already in line to play the role Fabregas would expect.
However, this fact is unlikely to soothe the anger of some Gooners, who are unlikely to react calmly should Fabregas start to pick up assists and goals at similar to rates to when he was at Barcelona and Arsenal.