Former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas believes Arsene Wenger has pulled off a major coup by signing Real Madrid’s second-best player with their deadline day signing of Mesut Ozil.
The club-record £42.5m deal for the German was confirmed with under an hour to go until the 11pm deadline on Monday, with Wenger finally landing the world-class signing he had promised throughout the transfer window.
Having already missed out on Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Luiz Gustavo among others, Wenger’s confidence in Ozil has been said to be the decisive factor in luring the 24-year-old to the Emirates Stadium, with the deal becoming the biggest move of transfer deadline day.
A number of Real Madrid squad players have admitted their shock and surprise at Ozil’s departure, with Spain contingent Sergio Ramoes, Isco and Alvaro Arbeloa speaking out over his sale.
Cristiano Ronaldo has even gone as far to express his anger that Ozil was allowed to leave, claiming that the attacking midfielder knew his movements in front of goal better than anyone else in the squad.
Now at Barcelona, Fabregas has also admitted his surprise at Real’s decision to sell Ozil, although he believes the move is a masterstroke from the north London club.
Speaking to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, Fabregas said: "I was really surprised by Ozil's departure. He seemed to me the second-best player at Madrid, after Cristiano (Ronaldo).
"He'll be great for Arsenal."
Fabregas spent eight successful seasons with the Gunners that saw him rise from a baby-faced 16-year-old signed from the Nou Camp to the Arsenal captain, which also saw him start in the 2006 Champions League final defeat to his current club.
The 26-year-old has been linked with a return to Arsenal at some point in his career, but he has endured a summer linked with another Premier League club in Manchester United, who appeared at one point determined to add the midfielder to their squad.
United had two official bids turned down by the La Liga champions – the second of £35m – and the English champions were believed to be preparing a third bid when Fabregas spoke out over his happiness at the Nou Camp, with what he labelled his “dream club”.
He had been slightly concerned with the tendency to leave him on the bench for crucial games such as the El Classico’s and the Champions League ties with AC Milan, Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich, where he only started one of the two-legged meetings.
Fabregas welcomes the challenge though, where he is competing with Xavi and Andreas Iniesta for not just a Barcelona starting spot, but also for Spain. Thiago Alcantara’s departure to Munich means there is now one less midfielder to compete with, but it could also mean his former team-mate could leapfrog Fabregas in the national team pecking order if he gains regular first team action.
"The tougher the challenge the better I like it and Barcelona was the biggest and most difficult, and I want to finish in a happy manner and if I can retire at Barca, then so much the better,” claimed Fabregas.
"The only thing in my head is triumphing at Barcelona.
"When I arrived at Barcelona I already knew there were other places where I could earn more or where I could have more minutes, but coming to Barca was my dream.
"It was my dream since I was small. I wouldn't go, not even for double the money."