Barca got Fabregas on the cheap, says Wenger

AFP, Tuesday 16 Aug 2011

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits other teams would have paid more for Cesc Fabregas, but the Spanish midfielder wasn't willing to join any other club



Cesc Fabregas finally realised his dream of returning to Barcelona on Monday after Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager,accepted it was no longer worth trying to keep his captain in North London against his wishes.

Barcalona will pay a £29 million fee that could rise to £35 million depending on Fabregas's success in Spain. However, Wenger knows he could have demanded a much higher price if the other clubs that coveted his player had been allowed to enter a bidding war.

Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City would all have paid closer to £50 million to sign the 24-year-old, who started his career in Barcalona's youth academy before joining Arsenal in 2003.

But Fabregas only had eyes for Barcalona from the moment the management made it clear they wanted to bring him back to Spain.

"We sold Cesc for a reduced fee. If he was on the market to any club we would have got more money," Wenger said.

He added, "If Cesc is for sale and you can make an auction between Real Madrid, Chelsea and Man City, you will certainly get more money, but he just wanted to go to Barcelona.

"What is funny is that people call multi-million pound players 'cheap'. But we did want to get a decent fee. That's what I'm paid for.

"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."

Fabregas's departure concludes a saga that has dragged on for two years and has proved to be a major distraction for Wenger and his players.

Wenger has grown accustomed to selling great players, for example, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira when they were just past their best, but Fabregas is still firmly in his prime and the sale represents a significant blow to Wenger’s hopes of ending the club's six-year trophy drought.

Yet the Gunners boss is adamant that life without Fabregas doesn't have to be bleak.

Fabregas leaves Arsenal with only one winners' medal to his credit, for the 2005 FA Cup. Wenger said: "I would prefer him in an Arsenal shirt, but that's part of life. We have seen big players leave us before.

 "We focus on the players we have here and we believe we have enough strength here. I have seen all the games over the weekend, I don't see why we should be suddenly afraid of anybody in England?"

Wenger now has a major transfer kitty to rebuild his squad, but his desire to ensure his signings prove to be good value for money has repeatedly stopped him from splashing out when clubs demand high prices for their stars.

Arsenal's fans showed their frustration at that policy during Saturday's draw against Newcastle when they chanted "spend some money", but Wenger has no intention of bowing to pressure from inside or outside the club.

"Everybody says to me: 'Buy'. I'm not against it. But when I ask 'who?', then there is a no-man's land," Wenger said.

"Because if these clubs come to buy our players, like I said many times, they have scouts all over the world, in Brazil, in Uruguay, in Argentina, in Denmark, everywhere. And they want to buy our players. Why? Because they have not found better players somewhere else."

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