Arsene Wenger has claimed that Cesc Fabregas would have preferred to join Arsenal Over Chelsea, but believes the Blues agreed a deal in early 2014.
Fabregas will face his former club for the first time since returning to the Premier League when Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Having made an impressive start to life as a Chelsea star, attention has turned to why Wenger opted against re-signing his former captain.
Fabregas eventually joined Chelsea in a £27 million deal, but it is well known that Arsenal had a first option clause to sign him. However, Wenger did not deem Fabregas as a necessary addition
Having come through the youth system to captain the Gunners, Fabregas may have opted to join Arsenal over the Blues if given the chance. The Arsenal manager is certain Fabregas would have done.
Asked if Fabregas preferred a move to the Emirates Stadium, Wenger told reporters: “Certainly, yes. I don’t want to make a big story of that because you have to accept that."
Barcelona reportedly agreed to let Fabregas go at the end of the season and speculation was intense going into the World Cup. The deal was eventually confirmed on the eve of the competition, but Wenger believes a deal was agreed long before.
The Arsenal boss also admits he was told about Fabregas' move to Chelsea and still chose against signing him. That was down to the signing of Mesut Ozil, who joined from Real Madrid in 2013.
Wenger said: "I personally believe that deal was done a long time ago, early 2014, and all the other speculation is just made up.
“I didn’t speak to him directly. I was informed that he might go to Chelsea. Everybody has the freedom to go where he wants. When he left [for Barcelona] we bought [Mesut] Özil. We were not in need of offensive players.
With Fabregas set to face his former club for the first time, and while wearing the shirt of a direct rival, attention turns to how his presence will be received by travelling fans. Traditionally, fans would have no hesitation in booing the player, but Wenger has warned Arsenal fans to respect the former star.
Wenger admits he holds no grudge against Fabregas and has urged Arsenal fans to do the same.
He said: "Cesc Fàbregas, when he looks back at his career, he will find that Arsenal and myself had a very positive influence on his career.
"I have no personal animosity against Fàbregas. He is a person I love and a player I love. [He deserves a] respectful welcome. Everybody respects Cesc here and I want him to get the welcome he deserves.”
Arsenal will return to the site where their season arguably unravelled last season. The Gunners conceded no less than six goals against their title rivals and Wenger is confident of dishing out some revenge.
He added: “It was not a bad day, it was a horrendous day. We never forget that day and we have an opportunity to put it right.”