EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal have first dibs on Fabregas return
Published 23:01 15/08/11 By John Cross
Arsenal have first refusal to buy Cesc Fabregas back as part of the £40million deal that finally sent the midfield star to Barcelona.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis insisted on the clause as the Gunners drove a hard bargain with the European champions.
And if they do not buy him back, the North London side will get 50 per cent of any fee if Barcelona sell Fabregas elsewhere.
It leaves Arsenal believing that months of haggling have paid off - and that it is a better deal than Barca are suggesting.
The Spanish giants will pay £14.5m up front and another £14.5m in October. Fabregas agreed to waive a £4m pay-off, and Barca will make up the rest of the £40m in success and bonus 'add-ons'.
Arsenal also persuaded them to waive any further options, sell-on or compensation claims for teenagers Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral, who left the Nou Camp to move to the Emirates this summer.
Fabregas kissed the Barcelona badge when he was unveiled at the Nou Camp on Monday.
He had left Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger in an impossible situation by insisting that he only wanted to go to Barcelona.
The Spain midfielder, 24, who has signed a £100,000-a-week, four-year deal, said: "For me, it's a special day. I'm returning home.
"No player is bigger than a club and I was no bigger than Arsenal. I was just a servant and spent eight years there when I gave absolutely everything.
"It didn't show in the cabinet, I only won one FA Cup really, and this is the biggest regret I will have in my career, probably, not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain.
"I will always be an Arsenal fan because what they have done for me is unbelievable and I will never forget it.
"Friday was one of the saddest days for me because I left behind a great time of my life - eight years that passed so quickly, when I went from a boy to a man. They gave me absolutely everything.
"Now I'm here and it's one of those mixed feelings that you have. I'm very grateful to be back home, it's one of the dreams that I had and that I always wanted to try.
"I'll never have enough words to thank him (Wenger) for all he's done for me. I'll never forget him.
"I don't think he has such a good image here (Barcelona), he has been portrayed as something he's not, in my opinion. If I am here with you today, 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.
"The relationship is fantastic. On Friday I said goodbye to him and I got very emotional because he's like a father figure to me.
"I couldn't even talk at one stage, when I wanted to say how grateful I was. I got a bit emotional and couldn't talk much."
Wenger confessed on Monday that Arsenal had been fighting a losing battle to keep Fabregas and said he moved for a "reduced fee."
But the Frenchman insisted the saga dragged on because the Gunners fought to get a better deal.
Manchester City, Real Madrid and Inter Milan were also keen, but the player told Arsenal that he was desperate to go back to his boyhood heroes.
Wenger said: "We sold Cesc for a reduced fee. If he was on the market to any club, we would have got more money; but we wanted to get a decent fee.
"You cannot say, because you want to get the deal done as quickly as possible, 'Just take him and give us what you want.' You have to fight for your rights.
"If Cesc is for sale and you can make an auction between Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man City, you will certainly get more money, but he just wanted to go to Barcelona.
"Cesc has given us eight years. It was a pleasure to work with him on a daily basis. I didn't know how determined Barcelona was to go to the end of this deal.
"But I think he was quite clear in his head. 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 where he was educated.
"You know how highly I rate him. I think he is one of the best midfielders in the world for sure."