Fabregas prepared to play second fiddle to Barça's maestros

Former Arsenal captain handed coveted No 4 shirt but will struggle to oust one of feted midfield trio

From captain to squad man, Cesc Fabregas was yesterday getting used to the idea of no longer being an automatic selection for his club side. "I'm now ready for a more secondary role," he said. "Maybe two years ago I wasn't but now I am.

"This is the biggest challenge for me to get into this team. I know it is a big challenge but that forms part of the attraction. I am prepared for anything, to have a secondary role or to have a major role."

Fitness will largely dictate which of those two fates await him this season, both his own and that of his team-mates. If the midfield trio that outplayed Manchester United in the Champions League final stay strong and his own hamstring problems persist then he could struggle to oust Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

But if Pep Guardiola's slimline squad starts to crack and he thrives physically away from the draining demands of the Premier League then he will occupy any one of the three midfield berths: Xavi rested, Iniesta moved into the front three or Busquets moved into the centre of defence are three possible permutations.

The fact he has been given the emblematic No 4 shirt ahead of youngster Thiago Alcantara, who wore it in pre-season, suggests for all the hype surrounding the 20-year-old, Fabregas is already way ahead in his new boss's thinking. The No 4 is generally worn by the lynchpin of team Barça, the holding midfielder who can drop back between the two central defenders, or orchestrate attacks. Guardiola wore the shirt and Fabregas fulfilled the role when he was a 13-year-old in the same youth team as Leo Messi and Gerard Pique.

Footage of him as a teenager at La Masia was shown before his first press conference yesterday. "Seeing the images again it feels like I have never been away," he said. The club's president, Sandro Rosell, knows he has been away. He was on the board when they allowed him to leave for £500,000 and he will be signing the checks over the coming months.

The image of Rosell grinning in the official photograph will grate with Arsenal fans who believe Barcelona have behaved poorly throughout the saga. The nature of the player's presentation to 25,000 supporters inside the stadium was more palatable. "Kiss the badge" sang the fans, and the player who had taken a pay-cut to come home, obliged.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam