Fabregas finally signs for Barcelona
Cesc Fabregas has ended one of the longest running transfer sagas in English football by completing a move from Arsenal to Barcelona.
Fabregas has signed a five-year deal with his hometown club with his buy-out clause set at €200 million.
Fabregas has never hidden his desire to return to Barcelona - the club from which Arsenal signed him as a 16-year-old - and, after six trophyless seasons at the Emirates, made it clear that the time to move on was now.
Despite assertions throughout the summer from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that Fabregas would be staying in London, the Gunners have finally relented and agreed a deal that does not reach their intended £40 million. Barca president Sandro Rosell said on Sunday night that the deal would be worth a guaranteed €29 million with a further €10 million to be paid depending on clauses being met.
After the clubs confirmed an agreement was in place on Sunday, Fabregas passed his medical on Monday morning and Barcelona's first-team doctor Ricard Pruna said: "All the tests taken have been satisfactory."
"I waited many days, months and years for this moment," Fabregas told the fans. "It is a very special day. I return home after eight years. I know I disappointed many of you when I left, but I'm back for the challenge of my life. I hope to leave good memories."
Fabregas has been handed the No. 4 shirt at Barca and he said: "To get the No. 4 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 No. 4."
Fabregas reserved special praise for Wenger, who has been a father figure to the midfielder during his years in England.
"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."
He added: "On Friday, I said goodbye to everyone at Arsenal. I was very emotional talking with Wenger. I had to send him a text message later because I couldn't express myself. Wenger will always be the best person I met in football. The Arsenal fans know I always gave everything, but it was time to leave."
Fabregas vowed to explain the move to the Arsenal fans in due course.
"I have time to talk about it and I'm sure I'll do an interview especially for them. I'm sorry I couldn't say anything in the last two and a half months - Arsenal wouldn't allow me to talk to anyone, even if I wanted to I couldn't.
"All I have are words of gratitude. I'll never forget what they have done for me, I gave absolutely everything to the club and I think they know that but it was the right time to come back here."
Wenger told a press conference that he believes Arsenal will bounce back from the loss of their captain.
"To get the best out of a player, he needs to be completely committed to where he is. Cesc wanted to go back to his home city," he said. "If you understand one thing, it is Cesc did not go for financial reasons, or that he did not love this club - Cesc went because he was desperate to play for his home town club, where he was educated. It is very difficult to resist that.
"Yes, we lost a world-class player and we are sad about it. We did fight to keep him, but in the end we have as well to respect the desire of the player. This club is 125 years old this season and many big players have left the club and the club went on.
"We want to show that we have the strengths and unity to fight as we ever did at this club."