Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits Barcelona were able to sign Cesc Fabregas on the cheap because the Spanish midfielder wasn’t willing to join any other club.
Fabregas finally completed his dream return to Barcelona on Monday after Wenger accepted it was no longer worth the trouble of trying to keep his captain in north London against his wishes.
Barca will pay a €29-million fee up front that will rise with add-ons depending on Fabregas’s success in Spain, but Wenger knows he could have demanded a much higher price if the other clubs that coveted him had been allowed to enter a bidding war.
Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City would all have paid closer to €55-million to sign the 24-year-old, who started his career in Barca’s youth academy before joining Arsenal in 2003.
But Fabregas only had eyes for Barca from the moment the Catalans made it clear they wanted to bring him back to Spain.
“We sold Cesc for a reduced fee. If he was on the market to any club we would have got more money,” Wenger said.
“If Cesc is for sale and you can make an auction between Real Madrid, Chelsea and Man City, you will certainly get more money but he just wanted to go to Barcelona,” Wenger added.
“What is funny is that people call multi-million pound players ‘cheap’. But we did want to get a decent fee. That’s what I’m paid for.
“You cannot say because you want to get the deal done as quickly as possible: ‘Just take him and give us what you want’. You have to fight for your rights.”
Fabregas’s departure concludes a saga that dragged on for two years and proved a major distraction for Wenger and his players.
Wenger has grown accustomed to selling great players like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira when they are just past their best, but Fabregas is still firmly in his prime and the sale represents a significant blow to his hopes of ending the club’s six-year trophy drought.
Yet the Gunners boss is adamant life without Fabregas doesn’t have to be bleak.
Fabregas leaves Arsenal with only one winners’ medal — for the 2005 FA Cup — to his credit and Wenger said: “I would prefer him in an Arsenal shirt, but that’s part of life. We have seen big players before leave us.
“We focus on the players we have here and we believe we have enough strength here. I have seen all the games over the weekend, I don’t think why we should be suddenly afraid of anybody in England?”
Wenger now has a major transfer kitty to rebuild his squad, but his desire to ensure his signings prove value for money has repeatedly stopped him splashing out when clubs demand high prices for their stars.
Arsenal’s fans showed their frustration at that policy during Saturday’s draw against Newcastle when they chanted “spend some money”, but Wenger has no intention of bowing to pressure from inside or outside the club.
A different situation
“Everybody says to me: ‘Buy’. I’m not against it. But when I ask ‘who?’, then there is a no-man’s land,” Wenger said.
“Because if these clubs come to buy our players, like I said many times they have scouts all over the world, in Brazil, in Uruguay, in Argentina, in Denmark, everywhere. And they want to buy our players. Why? Because they have not found better players somewhere else.”
Samir Nasri, who has just a year left on his contract, is ready to follow Fabregas out of Arsenal if Wenger agrees to sell the France midfielder to Manchester City, but the Frenchman hasn’t decided how to resolve that situation yet.
“Ideally I wanted to keep Fabregas and Nasri is still here. You might say not for long, but the situation is completely different,” Wenger said.
“He could play for us again, of course. He’s played in all the games until now.” — AFP