The former captain of the Gunners reflected on his period at Arsenal in an interview to the Arsecast Podcast where he talked about Arsene Wenger, his decision to leave the club, his frustration after losing the tougher games and the only two players that he believed were at his level.
A highly talented youngster at Barcelona’s La Masia, Fabregas joined Arsenal’s youth system in 2003, at the age of 15 and did not take long to break into the first team as he became Arsenal’s youngest ever player to play for the first team at just 16 years and 177 days. He was only 21 when he succeeded the versatile William Gallas as one of Arsenal’s youngest ever captains. But it was not enough to make the Spaniard stay at the club for long as Arsenal failed to bring home any silverware for 6 years and he finally left for his boyhood club FC Barcelona in 2011.
Now playing for AS Monaco, a club that saw some of its glory days under the leadership of Arsene Wenger, Fabregas spoke about the influence of Arsene Wenger in his early days at Arsenal and how Arsene dealt with the younger players in contrast to the senior, more experienced players. When asked about his relationship with Arsene, he said:
“Listen, Arsene is a very very honest man and he was unbelievable with me. He gave me total freedom to express myself and my talents. He never put any pressure on me and always spread positive vibes. You look at the type of players he signed, they are all intelligent players that understand the game and players that are only good at running. I made a lot of mistakes but he would not say much to me, he just made me train extra after the training sessions to help me overcome my weaknesses”
In the wide-ranging interview, the 32-year-old spoke openly about his decision to leave the Gunners 9 years ago, citing a number of different reasons. He laid emphasis on the club’s inability to win bigger tournaments and its conservative approach in the transfer market. He also highlighted how certain players had attitude issues, fostered the wrong mentality and lacked ambition.
He also highlighted the tremendous amount of pressure that he was under since he was the captain of the team and that he had sleepless nights, nights when he had to cry after losing important matches. He went on to admit that only Robin Van Persie and Samir Nasri were on his level in terms of mentality and skill.
“I was the captain, I always felt so much pressure on myself, I had to lead this team to win something, I gave everything. Sometimes I used to go home after losing and I used to cry, I used to suffer and had sleepless nights. Above that, you are on the bus after losing a game and there were some players that you hear laughing and talking about where they would hang out later that night. I started feeling lonely, especially in the last two seasons, I felt Robin and Samir were the only players at my level mentally and technically and it’s not an arrogant thing to say, it’s how I felt at that time,”
The first to leave, out of the arguably most gifted attacking trio which Arsenal ever had, it was Fabregas who left in 2011 and moved to his boyhood club – Barcelona. A few days later, Nasri signed for Manchester City. Robin Van Persie, even though he had a terrific individual season as he scored 37 goals in all competitions and won the Premier League Golden Boot as well, went on to join Manchester United the season after that.