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Cesc Fabregas hasn’t ruled out a possible second spell with former club Arsenal. The Chelsea playmaker, who is out of contract this summer, told Marca‘s Juan Castro: “Of course, Arsenal will always be in my heart and I will never forget them so why not return. You never know.”
Fabregas spent eight years with the Gunners before leaving to rejoin boyhood club Barcelona in 2011. He controversially returned to the Premier League three years later when he joined Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea, but only after the Gunners had chosen not to exercise a first option to bring him back.
Fabregas may be free to choose his next club if he doesn’t sign fresh terms with Chelsea. The 31-year-old has admitted he expects to continue his playing career either way:
“I feel fine still. In seven months my contract ends with Chelsea. It will be 16 seasons playing at the highest level, over 750 games, a lot of training, travelling… I feel young and strong but maybe I can’t do 60 games a season. With my style I think I can keep playing for longer and obviously I want to keep playing for many years.”
Fabregas wants to extend his stay with the Blues, but rumours have been building he will be playing his football elsewhere next season. Turkish club Galatasaray are said to be hoping to snap up the midfield schemer on a free transfer, according to Sozcu (h/t Emre Sarigul of Turkish-Football.com).
A return to Arsenal would certainly rate as a shock, even if Fabregas still has a lot to offer to any top club in Europe. The Spaniard’s range of passing, technique, intelligence and eye for an assist remain flawless.
He would be an asset on a second tour at the Emirates Stadium, where the Gunners still play an expansive and enterprising brand of football on the watch of head coach Unai Emery.
The latter replaced Arsene Wenger this summer, but it was the Frenchman who originally signed Fabregas from Barca’s La Masia academy back in 2003. Wenger painstakingly developed Fabregas’ obvious core talent and soon made him the fulcrum of his team.
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Fabregas’ rapid progress facilitated the sale of midfield talisman Patrick Vieira to Juventus in 2005. Fabregas became the face of Arsenal’s often-troubled transition from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.
The diminutive maestro thrived, but Arsenal couldn’t claim trophies, as consistent injuries to key players such as Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby and Robin van Persie derailed more than one title challenge.
Fabregas became club captain and eventually scored 57 goals on Wenger’s watch but only had the 2005 FA Cup to show for his efforts. A league title finally came his way a decade later, but it was won in Chelsea Blue under Jose Mourinho.
Wenger could have re-signed Fabregas before Mourinho made his move but opted against it despite revealing Fabregas was open to returning.
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At the time, the creative department of Arsenal’s midfield was well-stocked with Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Rosicky. It’s a similar story for Emery, who has Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi available to create chances and goals.
However, Arsenal are prepared to let Ramsey leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, the same way Jack Wilshere did last summer.
Fabregas could act as a deep-lying playmaker who would supply prolific strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Opening the door for his Arsenal return would ensure the Gunners continue to control possession in the style Emery wants.