• La Liga

Cesc defends Wenger after completing 'special' move

ESPN staff
August 15, 2011

Cesc Fabregas hopes Arsenal fans will not be too angry with him after he finally completed his move back to boyhood club Barcelona, on what he described as a 'special day'.

The 24-year-old returns to the club he left as a 16-year-old back in 2003, and was unveiled to the Catalan club's fans and media after finalising his contract and completing a two-part medical on Monday.

"It's a special day, I'm returning home," Fabregas said in a press conference. "I am ready for this new challenge."

The midfielder, who joins on an initial £25 million deal that includes a number of clauses that will see the eventual fee rise past £35m, also moved quickly to defend former manager Arsene Wenger from growing criticism he has received.

Fabregas believes the French manager has an unfair reputation, particularly in Spain, and thanked him for all his help and guidance during the eight years he spent at the Premier League club.

"I think he doesn't have such a good image here, he has been portrayed as something he is not, in my opinion. I can say this because I know how it is. I am grateful to him," he said. "I don't have the words to thank him and show my admiration for him, because I will always have him in my heart. It is because of him that I am here now living my dream.

"I will never have enough words for Arsene Wenger. If Arsenal want to keep being the club they are now then they always have to be under his control, because he is the best and everyone respects him. For me, he is the best person I have met in football."

The World Cup winner admitted he found it very difficult to leave Arsenal after spending eight years at the club, and revealed that the fact he only claimed one medal at the club - the 2005 FA Cup - will haunt him for a long time.

"I was very sad to be leaving because I spent one third of my life there, but life goes on," he said. "No player is bigger than the club - I am not, I am nobody at the club, I was just a servant. I gave my all but it didn't really show in the [trophy] cabinet. My biggest regret I will probably have in my career is that I only won one trophy with the club.

"I will always be an Arsenal fan because what they have done for me is unbelievable."

He also had a message for the fans at Emirates Stadium, apologising for being unable to speak about his impending transfer during the summer and asking for them not to turn their back on him over the manner of his exit.

"I am sorry that I could not say anything for the last two and half months, Arsenal didn't allow me to talk to anyone even if I wanted to," he said. "I was disappointed because I still have a great relationship with the fans. It took me a while to build this, and I was disappointed to lose their support over it.

"All I have is words of gratitude. I will never forget what they have done for me. I gave absolutely everything for the club - I hope they know that - but I just thought the time was right for me to come back."

Barcelona's sporting vice-president Josep Maria Bartolomeu conceded that the Spanish champions had grown frustrated as they struggled for a number of months to conclude a deal with the Gunners, but believes that has only made the satisfaction of finally signing their former youth graduate even greater.

"It has been hard, it has not been as easy as it thought it might be, but when things are hard the satisfaction is even greater," Bartolomeu said. "We are happy to have Cesc with us today."

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