Saga ends as Barça sign Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas has put the finishing touches on his move to Barcelona from Arsenal after signing a five-year contract with the European champions. Following confirmation last night that Barça and Arsenal had reached an initial agreement for the transfer of the Spain international, Fabregas this morning undertook a two-stage medical before the Catalan club confirmed on their official Twitter page that he had put pen to paper on his contract.
The 24-year-old, who has had a €200m (over £175m) buy-out clause inserted in his contract, is now set to be officially presented to the Barca fans this afternoon at the Nou Camp before then speaking to the media. Barcelona posted a comment on their official Twitter feed which read: "Cesc has signed his contract which ties him to Barcelona until 2016. The buy-out clause is 200 million euros."
According to the Barcelona website, Fabregas' medicals have proven him to be in perfect condition. Barcelona's first-team doctor Ricard Pruna said: "All the tests taken have been satisfactory." He added that Fabregas "can be integrated into training without any problem."
Barça's next match sees them take on Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night. The sides drew 2-2 in the first leg at the Bernabeu last night.
After penning his contract with the Catalan club Fabregas, wearing the number four shirt, was presented to the Barca fans at the Nou Camp. He was quoted as saying by the Spanish media: "For me it's a special day. I'm returning home. I know that the Arsenal fans will be disappointed with my exit from the club, but I'm here to face an incredible challenge, the challenge of my life."
He also praised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. "I'll never have enough words to thank him for all he's done for me," he said. "I'll never forget him. I don't think he has such a good image here, he has been portrayed as something he's not, in my opinion. If today I am here with you then it's greatly due to him. I can't express my admiration for him strongly enough, I owe it to him that I am here."
Fabregas added: "To get the number four shirt is very special. I know there has been a debate about whether Thiago (Alcantara) should have it but I'm very pleased to be able to wear the number four."
Fabregas said of his Arsenal career: "It's been a terrific experience. I come here with great humility because I know I have a lot to learn and I can learn a lot from this coach and this great team. I've played with two of them (Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique) since I was 13 and many of the others since I was 18 (with Spain) so I know them very well. I know I can enjoy it and make a contribution. I'm going to try very hard to make this team even more competitive and strong."
Fabregas insists he is ready to play the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday if called upon following last night's 2-2 first-leg draw in the capital. "I didn't see the first leg last night as I was flying over," he said. "But physically I'm fine and ready for everything. It's not my decision whether to play or not. I'm going to work very hard as always and enjoy it. I will give everything to make this club better."
The transfer had looked to be coming to an end on Friday with suggestions that confirmation of a deal to take Fabregas back to Barca was imminent. However, it was not until last night that the an agreement between the two clubs was made official.
Fabregas said: "They have been three or four intense days and I've tried to keep away from it all as much as possible. Until I had permission from Arsenal to travel I was not going to do it. In the end it has all been worth it."
The announcement brings to an end the long-running transfer saga and sees Fabregas return to his local club Barca, who he left for Arsenal as a 16-year-old. While the Gunners were always determined to keep Fabregas, it became clear this summer that the Spaniard - who made more than 300 appearances for the London club, scoring 57 goals - was no longer committed to their cause.
Barcelona saw a £27m offer rebuffed earlier in the summer, as Arsenal remained steadfast in their demands over a £40m fee. However, with Barcelona not willing to significantly increase their cash bid, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitting the player was unsettled, the English club reluctantly have allowed a deal to go through.
Wenger expressed disappointment at Fabregas' departure. "We have been clear that we didn't want Cesc to leave and that remains the case," he said in a statement on Arsenal's website. "However, we understand Cesc's desire to move to his hometown club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona. We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success.''
Fabregas had, according to Arsenal, been struggling for match fitness because of a hamstring injury which saw him miss the club's Far East tour and other pre-season games. Wenger omitted his captain from the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament and the midfielder was not selected for Saturday's opening Premier League fixture at Newcastle.
Despite winning both UEFA EURO 2008 and FIFA World Cup™ with Spain, club success has not followed for the midfielder, who missed Arsenal's League Cup final defeat to Birmingham at Wembley earlier this year through injury.