Paul Merson has come to the defence of Cesc Fabregas by insisting that the Spaniard’s controversial move to leave an Arsenal side “in decline” for Barcelona was understandable.
Fabregas joined the Gunners in 2003 after coming through the ranks at La Masia – Barcelona’s legendary academy – and he went on to make 306 Gunners appearances, scoring 59 goals and providing 92 assists.
However, the Spanish giants were keen to bring Fabregas back to Camp Nou following Spain’s World Cup win in 2010, and he rejoined Barcelona in 2011 for £35m in a switch which upset many Arsenal fans.
The 32-year-old midfielder, now playing for Monaco, lifted the lid on his sour transfer while speaking on the Arsecast podcast last week. He claimed that only two players – Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri – were comparable to him in technical ability just before he left the Emirates.
And Merson agrees that Arsenal struggled to recruit quality players and maintains Fabregas should not be vilified by Arsenal fans for leaving for Barcelona. “I can understand the reason Cesc Fabregas laid out as to why he left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2011,” he told Sky Sports.
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“I don’t know too many footballers, who when Barcelona and Real Madrid come calling don’t go. Fabregas is an interesting case because he did leave Barcelona as a youngster to go to Arsenal, but he couldn’t turn it down when they came calling again.
“I can’t think of too many players that could turn it down. You may get a player to wait around another year, but they always end up going in the end, and I had no problem with Fabregas going when he did.”
As well as the lure of the Spanish giants, Fabregas’ transfer was even more understandable given the difficult patch Arsenal were going through, according to Merson.
“He was a great servant for Arsenal, and I can understand where he was coming from when he spoke about the pressure on winning trophies and the club’s lack of recruitment.
“He’d given his all for the club and the reality is that he could probably see Arsenal were a team in decline, and as I said, I don’t know too many professional footballers who could turn down Barcelona.
“In the end, his decision was proved right. The lad’s a special player, there’s no doubt about it. Whatever football team he’d have gone to he would have improved. There are not many footballers around the world that can say they can walk into any side in the world and improve it.
“There are players like [Virgil] Van Dijk, Kevin de Bruyne, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo that can do it, but not many. Fabregas was a special talent and I had no qualms with how his time at Arsenal ended.”Copyright © 2020 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.