Francesc Fabregas Soler came through the ranks at Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy, but he became quite the product at Arsenal – moving from Barca to Arsenal at the age of 16 in the year 2003, before returning to his boyhood club in 2011.
Fabregas did come into the spotlight when he became Arsenal’s ever youngest player and goalscorer at the tender age of 16, two records he still holds today. He made his debut for Arsenal on the 28th October 2003, in a League Cup tie at home to Rotherham United. He then became Arsenal’s youngest goalscorer in history in a later round of the competition, scoring in a 5–1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In his first year with the Gunners, he was treated as a prospect with senior players like Patrick Viera, Gilberto Silva, and Edu, ahead of him in the pecking order; he knew he wouldn’t just walk into the starting XI given the calibre of players in the team.
The following campaign (2004/2005) would see Fabregas in and around the first team, following injuries that struck senior players in the midfield department. Fabregas had the opportunity he’d been waiting for; starting the Community Shield match against rivals Manchester United, he put in a great performance that saw Arsenal lift the shield ahead of their rivals.
He would end the 2004/2005 season with over 30 appearances, scoring 3 goals. He also broke the record for Arsenal’s youngest ever league goalscorer – in a 3-0 win against Blackburn Rovers. He would go on to win the PFA young player award and the FA Cup, his only trophy with the Gunners.
He would continue to excel in the midfield, alongside Gilberto Silva, following the transfer of Patrick Viera to Juventus. Fabregas was well equipped to make the midfield his own. Arsenal met Juventus in a Champions League encounter; the very same season Viera left Arsenal for Juventus. Fabregas went head-to-head against the Frenchman for midfield dominance and came out on top, scoring the first goal of the match and assisting the second for Thierry Henry.
Arsenal would make it to their first ever Champions League final against Barcelona in the season of 2005/2006 – defeating teams like Juventus, Real Madrid, and Villarreal Enroute. Fabregas would have the “all eyes on me” feel; starting in the final against the club he left at 16 and his boyhood team, he had a lot to prove. Unfortunately for Arsenal and Fabregas, they did not lift the trophy, as they were defeated in a 2-1 score-line.
Cesc would later be awarded a five-year contract following his development in the first team, as he continued to grow from strength to strength – becoming a key player for Arsenal.
He would later go on to captain the team at the age of 21 in October 2008, entrusted with such responsibility in a club like Arsenal, his age was not an issue to Arsene Wenger.
Just like every story, it comes to an end. Boyhood club came calling for the Spaniard and was sold in the summer of 2011; scoring 35 goals in 212 appearances for the Gunners. While at Barcelona, he failed to win the Champions League and was sold three years later to Arsenal’s rivals, Chelsea.
He would go on to win the English Premier league in his first season with Chelsea but has struggled to consistently start games under current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
While many Arsenal fans would see Fabregas as a traitor for moving to Chelsea, I’d still like to see him in an Arsenal shirt leading the team on and off the pitch. Imagine we had his presence around keeping in the mind with the club’s recent woes. Would you want Fabregas in an Arsenal shirt Again?