Cesc Fabregas has opened up on the early years of his career, admitting that both Manchester United and Arsenal were chasing his signature, but he chose the Gunners after he ‘fell in love’ with the club and its project.
Fabregas joined Arsenal as a 15-year-old in 2003, and went on to enjoy eight years at the north London club, even becoming captain towards the end of his spell at the Emirates Stadium. But it all could have been so different, had he chosen the lights of Manchester rather than London.
Speaking on The Locker Room with Rio Ferdinand, the 33-year-old explained that he was comfortable in the Barcelona youth system, but the talent ahead of him made him question whether he could make it as a professional in Catalonia.
“I was 15 and I was the captain of that team and I was well-valued,” he said. “[But] on top of me there was Iniesta, there was other players that you could see had a lot of potential to make it.
“One day a scout came from Arsenal to talk to my parents. The guy told me he came to see me over 50 times and said I was made to play for Arsenal and in the Premier League.
“He started showing me everything he studied from my game, he called Arsene Wenger to take me to London Colney to show me the training ground.”
Fabregas then confessed that Man Utd were also interested in signing him, but it was the effort that former coach Arsene Wenger made to cut short his holiday and meet him in person which convinced him to join the Gunners.
“At that time I had Man United as well (interested), and I was supposed to make two trips, to London and Manchester a month later.
“I went to London Colney and everyone was on holiday. Arsene Wenger flew on a private jet from Paris to come and meet me, David Dein came to meet me, and this shocked me. Like wow – Arsene Wenger. I’m 15 years old, a nobody, and this guy is breaking up his holiday to come and meet me.
“And then we were talking, he spoke to my mother, he showed me the training ground, and I just fell in love with the whole project.”
Fabregas remained at Arsenal until 2011, when he finally returned to Barça, before joining cross-London rivals Chelsea three years later.