Cesc Fabregas has announced his retirement as a professional footballer after 20 years.
The 36-year-old has spent the last 12 months plying his trade for Serie B side Como where he is also a shareholder.
The World Cup winner hasn’t hidden his ambitions to become a coach and recently returned to Arsenal to undertake his training badges following an invitation from Jack Wilshere. He’ll start his new journey in the dugout with Como’s B and Primavera teams.
It is with great sadness that the time has come for me to hang up my playing boots.
From my first days at Barca, Arsenal, Barca again, Chelsea, Monaco and Como, I will treasure them all.
From lifting the World Cup, the Euros, to winning everything in England and Spain and… pic.twitter.com/Wuwj04WanB
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) July 1, 2023
Recruited from Barcelona at the age of 16, Fabregas made his debut for the Gunners in a League Cup match against Rotherham in 2003 becoming in the process the club’s youngest ever player. He never looked back, scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the next round against Wolves.
After impressing in the Community Shield (with a superb mullet) in August 2004, the Spaniard became a mainstay in the first team as Arsene Wenger began planning for life without Patrick Vieira. Following the Frenchman’s departure for Juventus, Fabregas was handed the keys to the midfield and was instrumental in the run to the 2005/06 Champions League final.
As the Invincibles were gradually broken up and Arsenal moved from Highbury to Emirates Stadium, a young side was built around Fabregas’ supreme talent. While silverware evaded them, most notably in the 2007/08 season, their intricate pass-and-move football was, on its best days, exhilarating and later came to be known by the moniker ‘Wengerball’.
• Playing with Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry
• Operating in the double pivot and as a 10
• The 2005/06 Champions League run
• The team he enjoyed playing in the most
• Arsène Wenger’s brilliance@Cesc4official’s masterclass on how his role at @Arsenal evolved… 🔴🇪🇸
— The Coaches’ Voice (@CoachesVoice) June 30, 2023
Along the way, the youngster inherited the Arsenal captaincy and started adding goals to his game; plenty of corkers too, including fine strikes home and away against Sp*rs and that strike at AC Milan.
All the while, Barcelona, irked that such a gem had been stolen from under their noses, plotted a reunion.
After a couple of years of intense flirting, the inevitable finally happened in 2011. Despite the best efforts of Arsene Wenger to persuade Fabregas to stay in North London the draw of a return home and the chance to play with Lionel Messi and under Pep Guardiola proved too much. He departed for a fee of €34 million.
He was a genuine superstar at this point having been a member of Spain’s victorious squads at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, where he provided the assist for Andres Iniesta’s winner against Holland in the final.
At the Nou Camp, he won the Copa del Rey, La Liga, the Uefa Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup but, surprisingly, not the Champions League. There was also further success with Spain at Euro 2012.
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) May 4, 2023
Fabregas turned down a move to Manchester United in 2013 but it was clear he fancied a return to the Premier League. Arsenal had the right to buy him back (and probably should have done) but Wenger opted against the move having already packed out his midfield with the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Rosicky, Diaby and club-record signing Mesut Ozil.
The ensuing £30 million move to Chelsea is a chapter most Arsenal fans would rather forget. Fabregas’ impact at Stamford Bridge was immediate as the Blues won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup within three years.
In 2019 he moved to Monaco but injuries took a toll and he only managed 68 appearances before deciding to wind things down at Como.
While some Arsenal fans will never forgive Cesc for the way he engineered his move to Barcelona, few can deny he was one of the best players to wear the red and white. He’s also a long-term Arseblog reader and was happy to be interviewed by Blogs three years ago.
It’s a shame he didn’t win more than the 2005 FA Cup as a Gooner, but perhaps he’ll scratch that itch as a coach. We wouldn’t be surprised…