When Chelsea face London and Premier League rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday October 5, one man who will be in blue still thinks back fondly to his days wearing red: Cesc Fabregas.
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On his return to the PL with Chelsea this season, the Spanish international midfielder had dazzled and has slotted right back into life in England. That’s hardly surprising. At the age of 16, Fabregas left Barcelona and moved to North London to play for Arsenal. With the Gunners he became a hero, captaining the side and becoming the key cog in Arsene Wenger’s midfield. Then he left for Barca, spent three seasons in Spain but is now back in London leading Chelsea’s charge for the title after a $55 million summer move.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais on the current international break, Fabregas revealed his true feelings towards Chelsea’s Premier League rivals Arsenal but insisted he is committed to his current club, not the team where he made his name.
“Don’t think I didn’t think about it (playing for Arsenal’s rivals when I decided to join Chelsea). I will keep the Gunner feeling forever and I know that I will return to Emirates Stadium and it will be a special moment, but I am a committed guy,” Fabregas said. “I remind you that I played the Champions League final against Barcelona, with Arsenal, and I swear I would have done anything to win that game – and I have been a Barcelona fan since I was a kid. So I know that when I play against Arsenal I will know who is my (current) team, who are my colleagues and who I defend. And I know that the Arsenal fans will understand me, I have no doubt.”
Fabregas has had a blistering start to his Chelsea career, recording four assists in his first three PL games for the Blues. His poise on the ball, ability to get out of tight spaces easily and sublime vision mean Jose Mourinho has brought in one of the finest playmakers in the game. Fabregas also touched on his previously fiery relationship with Mourinho and how the Chelsea boss instilled confidence and belief in him to make the switch back to the PL.
“If you’d told me five years ago that I would play for Chelsea and Mourinho I would not have believed you, but life changes,” Fabrgeas said. “I spoke with my agent and asked him to find me a new team, and an offer from Chelsea arrived. For me it was coming back to London, where I grew up. There was no better way out. I spoke with Mourinho and he told me the things I needed to hear. I felt valued. I felt I was going to be important in an important project.”
Will Fabregas be booed or applauded by the Arsenal fans after he left them in 2011 for Barcelona, following a concerted effort to leave the Emirates? We shall see.
One things for sure, Cesc is happy to be back in London. No matter what color jersey he’s wearing.