Fabregas reaffirms love for Arsenal but del Bosque puts the kibosh on reunion
Published 22:00 10/11/11 By John Cross
Cesc Fabregas has been told there will be no time for emotional reunions on his return to London.
The former Arsenal captain was hoping to link up with his mentor Arsene Wenger and some old team- mates when the Spanish squad land in England today.
But Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has made it clear to his stars – who then fly on to Costa Rica for another friendly after the Three Lions – that they will remain under lockdown in their hotel for the next two days.
Fabregas, 24, who has already won 60 caps, may only play part of the game at Wembley tomorrow.
Several of the Barcelona players involved in their 1-0 Copa del Rey win over Third Division outfit Hospitalet on Wednesday night may be rested.
But Fabregas admits he is looking forward to returning to London – and, in particular, lining up against ex-Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott. Injury means he won’t tackle Jack Wilshere, however.
Fabregas returns singing the virtues of English football and the qualities that it installed in him during his eight years with the Gunners.
Barcelona find themselves three points behind Real Madrid in the Spanish title race.
And they had to dig out a desperate draw at Atletico Bilbao on Sunday in driving rain, courtesy of a goal from Lionel Messi in stoppage time.
But Fabregas says his time in north London taught him all about the English weather, never-say-die spirit and the quality of plugging away in tough cup games against lower division opponents.
Fabregas said: “At Arsenal, I often supported Robin van Persie, now I’m doing the same with Lionel Messi and David Villa.
“I learned so much at Arsenal and it is good to be able to use that experience in Spain.
“Matches like Sunday’s 2-2 draw in Bilbao, where the surface was very wet, need the sort of strengths of the English game.
“It was the same against Hospitalet. They made life difficult for us with their approach. It was a very competitive game.
“Our ambitions are pretty clear at Barcelona. What we want is to go far in all competitions we enter. To do that we have to deliver the goods in difficult conditions, too. Hospitalet were a very strong and aggressive team.
“They closed their defensive lines well and it was difficult to create chances. However, we did manage to control the game.”
Fabregas retains a deep affection for Arsenal and is relishing the chance to face Walcott – even if social reunions are out of the question this weekend. It is also a chance for Fabregas to help Spain in their build-up for next summer’s Euros when they will be favourites to retain the title they won in 2008.
But Fabregas says England must be respected – and admits Walcott can always pose a major threat. “I learned so much at Arsenal, grew up there and have so much respect for them,” he said.
“They have got great players, a great manager and I still enjoy English football.”
Fabregas also admits that Spain appreciate exactly how good Walcott is – and what a threat he can pose – from Arsenal’s Champions League showdowns with Barca.
“We all know Theo is a great talent and has shown that many times before,” he said.