Former Barcelona ace Cesc Fábregas feels he joined the Blaugrana earlier than he should have

  • Former Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas thinks he should have stayed at Arsenal for two more years.
  • The Spanish World Cup winner believes that he should have waited for Xavi to step down before joining Barcelona.
Modified 23 May 2020, 21:17 IST

Cesc Fabregas claims that the Bayern Munich defeat ultimately resulted in his departure from the club
Cesc Fabregas claims that the Bayern Munich defeat ultimately resulted in his departure from the club

In an interview with Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand, former Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas spoke of his adventure with his boyhood club and why his love affair with Barcelona never worked out.

"I joined Barcelona earlier than I wanted. Looking back now, I think maybe I should have waited for two more years because I had to wait for Xavi to step down a little bit and maybe retire."

Fabregas left his boyhood club Barcelona in 2003 to join Arsenal. The Spanish teenager was a runaway hit with the Gunners and became Arsenal's captain in 2003. Fabregas was always tipped to join Barcelona at some point in his career, and Spain's successful 2010 World Cup campaign proved to be a major catalyst for the transfer.

Fabregas reportedly paid a part of the transfer fee out of his own pocket to join Barcelona in 2011. In Barcelona, the midfielder was widely considered the natural heir to the legendary Xavi's throne. Fabregas revealed he spoke to Barcelona's then-manager Pep Guardiola prior to his arrival.

"I knew I had to compete. I was talking to Guardiola for two months and he said, "You have to come. I want to play 3-4-3, I want to play you as a number 10, Leo as a false 9. I was thinking wow, if that is the way you want to play then I will come, because we all fit."

Fabregas formed an instant connection with Barcelona talisman and childhood friend Lionel Messi. Fabregas had an excellent first season individually, scoring 15 goals and bagging 20 assists as his excellent relationships with his teammates came to the fore.

"The first eight months, they were outstanding. I don't think I've ever had so much fun playing football like the way I did there."

Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez paid the price for Barcelona's losses against Chelsea and Bayern

Fabregas and Sanchez were criticized after Barcelona
Fabregas and Sanchez were criticized after Barcelona's loss to Bayern Munich

Fabregas went on to lament Barcelona's defeat against Chelsea in his first season at the club. The second leg at the Camp Nou saw Fernando Torres score a famous stoppage-time goal that continues to haunt Fabregas to this day.

"The Chelsea game killed us a little bit, when Torres scored. That game, if you watch it, you play it a hundred times and you win ninety nine."

The 2011-12 season was Barcelona's first unsuccessful period after four glorious years. Cesc Fabregas suddenly found himself becoming a scapegoat.

"When you are in a big club like Barcelona and all the big players, they gave so much to the club. I left Barcelona and they had to buy me again for millions, so some people were already asking questions."

Barcelona reclaimed the La Liga title the following season with a record 100 points, with Fabregas scoring his first career hat-trick against Mallorca. However, the Catalans were dumped out of the Champions League by a rampaging Bayern Munich, who won the tie 7-0 on aggregate.

Fabregas struggled to break down Bayern Munich
Fabregas struggled to break down Bayern Munich's impeccable defence
"The second season, especially, we lost against Bayern Munich, against that team that won the treble. And really, they smashed us. Alexis Sanchez and I paid the price individually, to be honest."

Fabregas also expressed the importance that leadership roles had in his career. The former Barcelona midfielder claimed that he was used to being at the forefront of his team's plans. Unfortunately for him, that was not the case in Barcelona.

"I always felt like a leader, even in the Spanish national team. But with Barcelona, I struggled. There was always something missing and I just felt I needed a change."

Fabregas eventually decided to call it quits at Barcelona and joined Chelsea in 2014. A player of his stature and ability was always meant to be the perfect fit for a club like Barcelona.

Had the timing been better, the Spaniard's tryst with his Barcelona could well have been immensely successful.

Published 23 May 2020, 21:17 IST
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