Cesc Fabregas completes move to Barcelona

Pa
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:26
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Cesc Fabregas paid an emotional tribute to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after completing his move to Barcelona and admitted his failure to lift a trophy as Gunners skipper will always be his "biggest regret".

The 24-year-old Catalan midfielder finally returned to Barca today eight years after leaving to sign for Arsenal as a teenager in 2003.

The reigning European champions have splashed out £25.5million up front to recapture their former youth product, who has signed a five-year contract, in a deal which could eventually earn Arsenal £35million.

Fabregas had been keen to return to the Nou Camp for some time and after finally having his wish granted, paid tribute to the club where he "went from a boy to a man" but won only one major honour, the 2005 FA Cup.

"No player is bigger than a club and I was no bigger than Arsenal," said the former Gunners captain, who was given the armband in 2008.

"I was just a servant and spent eight years there when I gave absolutely everything.

"It didn't show in the cabinet, I only won one FA Cup really, and this is the biggest regret I will have in my career, probably, not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain.

"I will always be an Arsenal fan because what they have done for me is unbelievable and I will never forget it."

The World Cup-winning Spain international, who said an emotional farewell to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger before the weekend, added: "Friday was one of the saddest days for me because I left behind a great time of my life, eight years that passed so quickly, when I went from a boy to a man and they gave me absolutely everything.

"Now I'm here and it's one of those mixed feelings that you have. I'm very grateful to be back home, it's one of the dreams that I had and that I always wanted to try."

Fabregas praised Wenger and defended his former coach's reputation in Barcelona, where he has been painted as a villain for taking Fabregas for nothing in 2003 and complaining about their attempts to buy him back in recent years.

"I'll never have enough words to thank him for all he's done for me," he said.

"I'll never forget him.

"I don't think he has such a good image here, he has been portrayed as something he's not, in my opinion. If today I am here with you then it's greatly due to him.

"I can't express my admiration for him strongly enough, I owe it to him that I am here.

"The relationship is fantastic. On Friday I said goodbye to him and I got very emotional because he's like a father figure to me.

"I couldn't even talk at one stage, when I wanted to say how grateful I was. I got a bit emotional and couldn't talk much.

"I had to send him a message afterwards, saying 'I'll never forget what you've done for me'. If it hadn't been for him I wouldn't be here today, living my dream.

"I think if Arsenal want to keep being the club they are then they have to always be under his control, because he's the best, everyone respects him, and for me, he will always be the best person that I've met in football."

Asked about his messy departure from the Emirates Stadium, Fabregas admitted it had been difficult to leave the Gunners and lamented the fact he had been unable to explain himself to the club's fans.

"I have time to talk about it and I'm sure I'll do an interview especially for them," he said.

"I'm sorry I couldn't say anything in the last two and a half months, Arsenal wouldn't allow me to talk to anyone, even if I wanted to I couldn't.

"All I have are words of gratitude. I'll never forget what they have done for me, I gave absolutely everything to the club and I think they know that but it was the right time to come back here."

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