His stock rising with every game, the 20-year-old Arsenal playmaker has shouldered the burden following Thierry Henry's departure, leading by example to propel the Gunners to the top of the English Premier League.
After signing for the Londoners as a callow teenager four years ago, fabulous Fabregas has already racked up 150 appearances in the distinctive red and white jersey. The youngest goalscorer and debutant in the club's illustrious history, the Barcelona youth product was also a member of the side that did battle with the Catalans in the final of the 2006 UEFA Champions League.
Cesc capped his meteoric rise to international prominence when he travelled with Spain to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ a mere four months after making his international debut, the fulfilment of a dream that was to end in elimination at the hands of Henry's France.
Likening his vision on the field of play to that of French genius Michel Platini, club boss Arsene Wenger has gone so far to say that the young Spaniard is destined to become the best player in the world, a prediction that had the shy superstar blushing in modesty. Currently enjoying the most prolific spell in his short but intense career, Cesc spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about life at the top.
FIFA.com: Arsenal have started the season in terrific
style. Is this your year do you think?
Cesc Fabregas: It's too early to say. Let's wait and see. We're playing really well and we're very excited about what is a wonderful project.
One of your major challenges was to overcome the absence of
Thierry Henry. You seem to have managed that without too much of a
Yes, it was a big test because he was always a very important player for the club. But the ones who've stayed on have been able to carry on without him.
The coach has played a big part in that. What are Arsene
Wenger's main qualities?
He's got a lot of class. He knows exactly what he has to do, he's not scared of giving young players a chance, he can be critical of us and he tells us where we have to improve. He's very intelligent and he's a great trainer.
Steven Gerrard is a great admirer of yours and has said you
have the world at your feet. Do you believe there are any parts of
your game where you can improve?
Lots and lots. I've got to work harder on my defensive game, improve my final pass, work on my left foot and heading, and be more clinical in front of goal.
What are your aims for 2008?
I want to have a good season with Arsenal, play as well as I can and win a major title because that what this club deserves. Then I'd like to go to the European Championship and win that. I think we've got a very strong squad for the tournament. There's a lot of desire in the team. We might be young but we've got plenty of experience all the same.
You have just extended your contract to 2014. Do you see
yourself as a one-club man like Raul or Paolo Maldini, staying
loyal to one team forever?
We'll see what happens. It's too early to say as I'm only 20. My contract ends when I'm 27 and even at that age you still have a lot of football left in you. I'm not thinking about that right now but I wouldn't mind, of course, because this is a fantastic club.
You are Arsenal's youngest ever goalscorer and you have
already played in a FIFA World Cup. Do you not feel overwhelmed by
it all sometimes?
No, because I don't stop to think about it ( laughs). I just concentrate on the present and the future and when I retire then I'll have the time to look back and weigh up what I've done.
How do you handle the speculation about a possible transfer
to Real Madrid or Barcelona?
I'm very comfortable at this club. It's where I want to be and I'm playing the kind of football I enjoy with some brilliant team-mates. Arsenal have always treated me wonderfully well and I'm grateful to them for that.
Returning to the national team, what are Spain's
expectations now that you have qualified for UEFA EURO
We need to keep a level head and try and do our very best. If we get a tough group we shouldn't make a drama out of it and think we're going to lose. By the same token, if we play well in our first game, we shouldn't get carried away and say we're going to win it, like we did at the World Cup. We are a good side but we shouldn't set our expectations too high or too low.
Spain were a little inconsistent throughout the qualifying
group. Why was that?
In football the most important thing is winning and you can't always do that and play well at the same time. When we come up against smaller nations they always put ten men behind the ball and it's not easy. Even so, we've been winning our games lately and as far as I see it we're not playing as badly as people say. It's just a matter of opinion.
What is more, all the big teams have had problems. We saw that with Italy and France, and then there's England, who didn't even qualify. Most teams are worried about conceding and they just put men behind the ball. I think we should be judged on other things like the Denmark game, for example. Despite the pressure that was on us, we played good football and came away with a 3-1 win.
How does the pressure from the media and the continual
debate about the team and the coach affect the players?
We don't pay any attention to those things. We're pretty relaxed and we've got a lot of confidence in our coach, as he has in us. We just want to play well and for the fans to be happy with the team.