As the former Spain international sees in his 35th birthday, Mirror Football analyses his time in English football plying his trade for two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs in Arsenal and Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas was a youth prospect the likes of which English football had arguably never seen before and revolutionised one of the nation’s biggest sides in Arsenal.
The Spaniard emerged in the Gunners first-team while then-manager Arsene Wenger was at the peak of his powers winning Premier League and FA Cup doubles. Wenger did so with a side, particularly a midfield, that while supremely technically gifted was also incredibly physically imposing with the likes of Patrick Vieira alongside first Emmanuel Petit and then Gilberto Silva.
Therefore, it raised eyebrows when a five foot eight teenager broke through into the first-team fold and showed quickly that he was there to stay. Fabregas remains the youngest goalscorer in Arsenal’s history after he netted a League Cup strike against Blackburn Rovers at the tender age of 17 years, three months and 21 days.
Such was Fabregas’ quality, he made a manager with the stature of Wenger alter the way he viewed football and look past physical attributes – focusing, seemingly solely on how good players were with the ball at their feet. Would the likes of Santi Cazorla, Samir Nasri or even current boss Mikel Arteta gone on to play for Arsenal were it not for Fabregas?
Vieira himself has since admitted Fabregas’ arrival into the Arsenal team signalled the end of the iconic French skipper’s time in North London. While manager of Nice, Vieira took on a Monaco side that boasted his former Gunners teammate within their ranks.
The 2010 World Cup winner inherited the Arsenal armband off of William Gallas in November of 2008, making him one of the youngest skippers in the club’s history at just 21 years old. He came agonisingly close to spearheading the Gunners to the 2007/08 Premier League title, were it not for Eduardo da Silva’s season-defining injury.