£25m Gunners signing has a bigger legacy than Cesc Fabregas

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Despite winning an FA Cup and two Community Shields at Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas is unlikely to be the most loved man at the Emirates Stadium.

The Spanish midfield maestro spent seven seasons playing for the Gunners, making 303 appearances, scoring 57 goals a recording an incredible 95 assists.

However, unfortunately for Arsenal fans in 2011, Fabregas returned to his boyhood club Barcelona, but the real kick in the teeth came in 2014 when he signed for bitter rivals Chelsea, where he would go on to win two Premier Leagues – something he never managed to do at Arsenal.

Why did Cesc Fabregas leave Arsenal?


Arsenal fans had a deep affection for the now-retired 36-year-old but since his moves to Barcelona and predominantly Chelsea, it is probably fair to say his legacy isn’t quite what it once was.

In a revealing interview with Arseblog in March 2020, Fabregas revealed he left the club because of the pressure that was put on him as captain and the poor quality of players he was surrounded by.

He said: “I was the captain, I always felt so much pressure on myself. I had to lead this team to win something. I gave everything. Sometimes, I used to go home after we lost and I used to cry.

“I used to suffer, I used to spend sleepless nights suffering. And then you lose a game, you’re in the bus like this, destroyed, and then you hear some players laughing, thinking about where they will be going out later.

“This was going on for a few years. And at one point I felt kind of lonely. Especially in the last two or three years, I felt Robin and Samir were the only players – it’s not an arrogant thing to say, it’s how I felt at that time – were the players who were at my level mentally and technically.”

You could argue that the Europa League winner’s assessment of the squad was, right as in his seven seasons with Arsenal he was only able to win three trophies, and by the time he left in 2011 they hadn’t won the Premier League since 2004 and the FA Cup since 2005.

However, thankfully for Arsenal fans, manager Mikel Arteta and sporting director Edu have been able to revolutionise Arsenal as a club and its squad of players.

Very few people can question the extremely high quality of the squad now, with players like Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and William Saliba pushing the red side of London to be serious title challengers.

Who has a better legacy than Cesc Fabregas?

Granit Xhaka

It could be argued that many of the players in the current Arsenal squad will one day leave a greater legacy than Fabregas.

But even former controversial Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka could have left the Gunners this summer with a far greater reputation and status.

The Swiss midfielder signed for legendary boss Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2016 for £25m from Borussia Mönchengladbach, and before leaving for Bayern Leverkusen this summer he made 297 appearances for the north London side, scoring 23 goals and providing 29 assists in all competitions.

The 30-year-old quickly became a controversial player at Arsenal, as his performances weren’t always spectacular. On top of this he wasn’t afraid to put in a rash challenge, and during his time at Arsenal he picked up 76 yellow cards and five red cards in all competitions.

Xhaka’s performances during this part of his Arsenal career were once excellently summed up in one X by journalist Mark Man-Braynes.

He said: “Petulant booking for AFC captain Xhaka – tugs back Grealish as his counterpart just turns and walks past him with the ball.”

Xhaka’s controversial performances came to a head in 2019 when he was stripped of his captaincy after arguing with the fans, during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

As the midfielder was being substituted, he was booed by the Arsenal fans, prompting him to cup his ear to the fans, tear off his shirt, and walk straight down the tunnel.

However, after the arrival of Arteta and the signing of new players that allowed Arsenal to flourish, Xhaka looked like a player reborn.

Last season the midfielder was part of the side that spent 248 days at the top of the Premier League, claiming the record for the longest time at the top of the league without winning it.

At one point of the season, they were 8 points clear of eventual treble winners Manchester City, but finished 5 points behind the Champions, after they completely capitulated at the end of the season, losing two of their last five games.

During, Arsenal’s title charge the Basel Youth Academy graduate received lots of praise for his performances, even BBC pundit Garth Crooks highlighted his importance to Arsenal and the love he received from the fans.

Writing for BBC Sport he said: “I don’t like Granit Xhaka, I find him confrontational, overly aggressive and altogether irritating. Nevertheless, on his day he’s a very good player. He should have left Arsenal years ago.

“However, for some reason he has not only stayed at the club but also occasionally wears the captain’s armband, such is his popularity these days.”

His performances were also backed up by his 7.05 Sofascore rating last season, this rating placed him eighth in the squad overall and ahead of lorded defenders Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes.

He also played 3,700 minutes last season in all competitions, the fourth most in the entire squad, showing how important he was.


Minutes Played

Gabriel Magalhaes


Bukayo Saka


Aaron Ramsdale


Granit Xhaka


Ben White


Stats via Transfermarkt.

In truth, Xhaka was and will never be as good of a player as Fabregas was for Arsenal – or for any other club.

But he will certainly be remembered more fondly by Arsenal fans, after his excellent final campaign for them along with his two FA Cups and two “Community Shields, which is slightly more than what Fabregas won in his time with the Gunners.

The Spanish midfielder will be more fondly remembered by fans of other teams for his achievements for them, as his trophies away from Arsenal include two Premier Leagues and one Europa League with Chelsea, his one World Cup and two European Championships with Spain, and one LaLiga title with Barcelona

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