Cesc Fabregas stumbled over his words when he dedicated Spain's World Cup victory to Arsenal's fans, players and staff, referring to himself as an Arsenal player in the past tense – "I am really proud to have been an Arsenal player" – before correcting himself later.
Now that the World Cup finals are over, Fabregas's advisers will try to negotiate their client's wish to return to Barcelona, the club he left in 2003 as a 16-year-old to play first-team football at Arsenal. Fabregas is expected to be told that he will not be allowed to move this summer under any circumstances.
Like Fernando Torres at Liverpool, Fabregas is signed to a long-term contract – until 2015 – and Arsenal are under no pressure to cash in on his value. At the age of 23 he will remain a valuable asset for some years to come and the club do not believe that parting with him now, especially with Barcelona's valuation around £30m, makes any sense.
On Sunday night, Fabregas, who came on in the 87th minute of the final, said: "I am an Arsenal player and I am really proud to be able to give this trophy to all the fans. I had a text from Arsène Wenger. He said: 'Congratulations, you deserve it.' I replied, 'Thank you very much,' and said this is for all the Arsenal club, manager and players who have helped me be where I am today."
It is only Fabregas's second winners' medal after the FA Cup in 2005. However, he said his first thoughts at the final whistle had been for his Arsenal team-mate Robin van Persie, who had been given the thankless task of playing alone in attack for a Netherlands who tried to hustle and kick the Spanish out of their stride.
Fabregas said: "I thought about going to my family but the first thing I did was go to Robin. I had to go to Robin instead of celebrating with my friends. It is really hard for him. He has been injured for a long time. Of course, if it wasn't us that he was playing against I would be on his side.
"Even though I was really happy, I was sad for him because he deserves it as well. He just said 'Congratulations' and told me to enjoy the moment. And I really hope he has his chance again and that he wins it. He is a great guy, a great leader. He has been really unlucky with injuries."
Having not started a World Cup match for Spain – he came on in four games – Fabregas admitted that the tournament had been "difficult" at times for him. "The only thing I regret in the whole of the tournament is that I should have passed to David Villa [when he went through on goal after in extra time]," he said. "But it didn't matter in the end. He forgave me because we won. So that's OK. It has been hard but, believe me, now it doesn't matter at all because it is one of best moments of my life."
The former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso said that the current Spain team could go on to retain both their European and world titles. He said: "Right now is not the time to think about the future, but of course the basics are there with this team. The style is there, the mentality is there, the team spirit is there, so if we keep working in this way many more big things may come.
"It is difficult to describe in words. It is such an amazing feeling to have this trophy. To win this after the European Championship is brilliant and we are making history."Reuse content