Cesc Fabregas has admitted he could never see himself turning out for Chelsea three years ago when he was on the brink of leaving Arsenal to join boyhood club Barcelona, but is glad he now does ply his trade in west London.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, the 27-year-old playmaker described how he could never have dreamed of wearing the Blue of the Stamford Bridge club, nor working under Jose Mourinho, during his time as the Gunners skipper and playing for Barcelona.
"For a young player he [Wenger] is the best coach in the world" - Fabregas
He also had kind words for his former boss, Arsene Wenger, whom he insists made everything possible for him. He also described why he decided to leave Camp Nou behind and return to the Premier League.
The latter of these subjects he puts down to “love”, or the lack thereof, which was in short supply in his final season at the Catalan club. After joining them from Arsenal in 2011, Fabregas failed to show off his full potential regularly enough and had a strained relationship with the club’s fans.
"I returned to London because I try to go to the places where I feel loved and happy," he said, though claimed that there was very little adjustment needed with regards moving to Chelsea after being at Arsenal, especially as the Blues have transformed as a team since he first departed England.
Article continues below
“The change from Arsenal to Chelsea from a sporting point of view has not been that big. Had I made that change three years ago, I guessed it would have been a bigger adjustment but not now,” he added.
"Chelsea have changed, it's not the team that I expected. Now it's a team that wants to have a starring role. They want to dominate games, have more possession. From a football standpoint it is similar to Arsenal."
While Fabregas was at Barcelona Jose Mourinho was in charge of rival Real Madrid and the ‘Clasico’ rivalry was as fierce as it has ever been when the two were on opposite sides of the fence.
The Spain international could not deny there were some heated moments, but claimed it was never personal, despite saying working under Mourinho would have been unthinkable then.
“Three years ago I wouldn't have imagined working under Mourinho. But in the end, life has many turns, and more so in football. We had a big rivalry with Mou, we were against him but I never hated him,” he said.
Arsenal Had The Option
As part of the deal that took Fabregas to Barcelona, Arsenal had first option to sign him again should the Catalan club decide to sell him. But when the time came, and with the player keen to return to his old club, the Gunners boss decided he could not sign him - reports suggested this was because of the presence of Mesut Özil.
However, Fabregas appears to have no hard feelings over Wenger’s decision and was full of praise for his former mentor. It was Wenger whom convinced the 15-year-old to leave Barcelona for north London and gave him the chance to become one of Europe’s leading attacking midfielders.
This sounds like something he is not about to forget any time soon, describing the Emirates Stadium tactician as the ‘best in the world’ when it comes to developing young talent.
"I will always be grateful. For a young player he is the best coach in the world. You make a mistake and he still includes you (in the team), you make another mistake and he includes you, you get booed and he includes you. He doesn't care. He believes in you. He always had confidence in me,” he added.
Things have gone quite well so far since the Stamford Bridge switch and Fabregas is on course to break all kinds of assists records in the Premier League after building up a fruitful partnership with another new summer arrival, Diego Costa.
Mourinho’s men are top of the Premier League table, five points ahead of reigning champions Manchester City, and have integrated Farbegas almost seamlessly. They are favourites to lift the trophy at the end of the season and currently look on course to do just that.