Cesc Fábregas has expressed his reservations about Arsenal’s transfer policy and suggested that manager, Arsene Wenger, would have been sacked for his trophy drought if he was working in Spain.
Wenger’s Arsenal have won nothing since the FA Cup success in 2005 and this season looks like being another year without silverware for the London club.
“If you went to Spain and said to [Pep] Guardiola, [José] Mourinho or Unai Emery [the Valencia manager] that they would have three years without winning a trophy, it would be obvious they would not continue [at their clubs],” the Arsenal captain told Don Balon.
“Here, it is different, the manager is intelligent and the club value different things: that the team is always in the Champions League, that we compete until the end, that we have young players, economic stability. For the board, this is important. But I imagine there will be a moment when you have to decide: do you win things or not?
“When I started here, we won the Cup [in 2005] and got to the Champions League final [in 2006]. Barca beat us with an extra man and it was not a victory but it was the first time that the club had got to a Champions League final. Millions of players had played here and it was us that did it.
“But from 2007 on, I started to say: ‘We don’t win but we play very well.’ And after that you realise that it doesn’t work. You enjoy it, during a part of the season, like this year when we were in four different competitions and you say: ‘Here, I have it all.’ But then you cannot make the final step and it is here where a decision has to be made: to go out to win or to develop players.”
Fábregas, who joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old from Barcelona at the beginning of the 2003-04 season, said he had learned from the club’s Invincibles [who were unbeaten that season]. But he believes the current side lacked experienced role models.
“I was in a winning team and it was impressive,” he said. “You felt that if you had a bad game, nothing happened because your team-mates helped you. Now, a lot has changed, and I am the man that everyone looks to. I don’t like to say it but it is true.
“If I play badly, I take responsibility and the pressure of the supporters. Only me and [Robin] Van Persie remain of that generation, and we have a lot of responsibility. Me and Van Persie learned from the best. Now it is different because we are all so young and there is nobody you look at and say: ‘Wow.’
“Young players learn from the older ones. Now, it is more complicated. If you put [Jack] Wilshere in the team that played before … it is different. I am not saying better or worse. Before, there were reference points, winning and strong players and playing with them, you learned faster.”
Fábregas has been linked over the past two summers with a return to Barcelona and he expects fresh speculation at the end of the current campaign.
“The day that I leave Arsenal, it will be with my head and not just because,” Fábregas said. “And who says you will play in your new team? Or that you will develop? Here, I have a lot of luck on a personal level – despite not winning a lot – and I am doing very well.
“I speak with [the Barcelona captain Carles] Puyol, who says that he didn’t win a thing until he was 26. Patience and hard work are the most important things in life. You will not see me [convinced by an ambitious project]. And if one day I leave Arsenal, it will never be to sign for another English club. That is for certain.”