Former Arsenal captain and current AS Monaco midfielder, Cesc Fabregas, in this exclusive interview with Catalunya Radio’s sports show, Tot Costa, tells an untold story about his stint at FC Barcelona under manager Pep Guardiola after making a huge development as The Gunners’ player
Fabregas also explains why his relationship with Guardiola has since nosedived, while his relationship with his manager at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, is blossoming.
He also gives his own perspective about his friend, Lionel Messi’s issues with Barcelona, and the Camp Nou lords’ seeming fall from grace to grass.
Tot Costa: Do you have any idea how to finish your career in Monaco?
Fabregas: I’m still looking forward to trying some other experience. I am already 34 years old, but I am strong and eager to continue playing football.
How do you live football in the context of a pandemic?
Fabregas: It’s weird. It’s sad. You play in amazing stadiums and there is no atmosphere, no fans. Football belongs to footballers, but fans are a very high percentage of the game. The screams, the emotions, what pushes you to do an extra sprint. This is dead a bit, but it’s what it’s all about for the good of everyone. Let’s see if in a few months fans can come to watch the matches.
competition and I’ve played it for many years. I haven’t played it in two years now and I notice it. I would like to be part of that music, of that great competition.
Do you follow Barca closely? Do you watch all the matches?
Fabregas: Yes, all I can. 90% of the matches I watch.
And do you look at them as a player or as an amateur? How did you experience Sergi Roberto’s goal against PSG?
Fabregas: Totally like an amateur, total amateur. I’m not much of a caller at home, but I like a lot of the matches of the teams where I played, especially Barca. I love watching football and Barca is the one that arouses the most emotions in me. Football and Barça is the one that arouses the most emotions in me.
It’s been six years since you left Barca. Did you leave feeling unloved?
Fabregas: Let’s see how the headline comes out. It lacked a bit of tuning in the end. I started well, but in the end, the key was the sensations. I watch goals from Messi and in the three seasons I was at Barca and I go out a lot. “It didn’t go so bad,” I think. Over time, my current feeling is much better than it was the day I left.
You had waited a long time to come to Barca and three years later you decided it was best to leave. Because?
Fabregas: I don’t have a lot of patience when things don’t go very well. I like to feel loved, to feel important in the team. Maybe because of how I had felt at Arsenal for eight years, there I was the captain. If you then go to a bone place there is not so much feeling, it costs me. When I saw that there was no tuning in, seeing the teams that wanted me, I wanted to feel important and win titles. It was not at Barca, but it was on other great teams.
Have you overcome it?
I do not hold grudges, I have far surpassed them to this day. Yes I had some tough months, although at Chelsea I had a great season in my first year there. We won a double. The first few months I was angry about what had happened at Barca, but time passes and everything was overcome.
Tot Costa: You left for Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2014, did you feel a bit like the antihero of Barcelona to leave with Mourinho?
Fabregas: No. I had to go where I thought I would do best, the decision was mine and it didn’t depend on what people said. Mourinho inspired me. He told me we had them at Arsenal, Chelsea and Barça. Madrid, but that all was over. Today I continue to write messages with him and I am very grateful to him for what he did for me.
Tot Costa: Do you plan to be a coach?
Fabregas: I do not know. I have trained with great and very different coaches. Wenger, Aragonese, Conte …
Tot Costa: In Barcelona, everyone talks about Xavi as a future coach. Did he poll you?
Fabregas: No, no … I still have four more years of football. I wish Xavi all the best and that everything goes well for him when he arrives at Barca, whether now or later.
Tot Costa: And do you keep in touch with Guardiola?
Fabregas: No, no. With Pep, nothing at all.
Tot Costa: You had mutual admiration before coming to Barca. Did you end up with a point of mutual disappointment?
Fabregas: I don’t know if the disappointment with Pep is mutual. Things happened, but I prefer not to talk about it. He was my idol since I was a child. It’s from whom I’ve learned the most, perhaps.
Tot Costa: The stigma of being a substitute evil accompanies you. Are you still?
Fabregas: I am a very bad substitute and will continue to be so until I retire. But I wouldn’t change it for anything, because despite transmitting a lot from my first season at Arsenal, it has always helped me to be better. I used the rage of being a substitute to train like never before and improve. What is not a bad substitute to raise your hand.
Tot Costa: Do you write to Messi from time to time?
Fabregas: Yeah yeah. With Leo, with Mascherano, with Busquets, with Alba. We made very good friends.
Tot Costa: Are you satisfied that Messi would continue at Barca this year?
Fabregas: Looking after your friends, you always want the best for them. What more can we ask of Messi? You can’t ask for anything else, you’ve done it all for fifteen years. I’m amused by what they say doesn’t run. No one said that when he won triplets. In the case of Leo, who is so special, it made me a little sorry to see people inside the club trying to hurt him. As a Catalan, I am grateful he has stayed at Barca this year.
Tot Costa: Could it be that Messi is feeling lonely at Barca now?
Fabregas: I do not think so. He has been there for many years. But Suarez was a very important pillar for Leo and losing him on your side must be difficult. It would happen to us all.
Tot Costa: Could any link have been broken between Messi and the Barca fans? Do you think that he will leave next summer?
Fabregas: I don’t know when he will leave, but I don’t think any bond with the fans has been broken. Leo has been too big. Maybe they were scared to see that he could leave, but the day that passes, that it will arrive, everyone will value everything he has done, and that will always remain.
Tot Costa: Has Barca’s dressing room commanded too much?
Fabregas: In my time I would say no, but when I talk to Messi now, we don’t talk much about football. In Pep’s time …, we already know what Pep is like. With Tito, everyone respected him very much. Maybe a few things happened with Tata, yes. On the day of the Lightning we won 0-4 and lost possession he was dislocated and talked to some players to see if we would change a few things.
Tot Costa: Do you think that Barça must learn to live with reality, that the era of triplets is over?
Fabregas: Who knows. For now it seems so, but football is as it is. One example, when Guardiola arrived in 2008, with some reinforcements like Alves and Piqué, he won a sextet. The margin between winning and losing is very thin. Maybe for now, if we are realistic, Barca is not ready to win the treble, but it can happen anyway, eh. There are young players who need to grow.
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