Arsene Wenger has lavished praise on Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, claiming that the Spanish midfielder “loves the club” despite constant doubts about his future.
Fabregas was instrumental in Arsenal’s 6-0 Champions League drubbing of Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga in midweek, scoring two goals and having a hat-trick denied him only by a clearance off the line.
And with the Gunners putting in a scintillating performance as they systematically dismantled Braga, Wenger paid tribute to the man at the heart of it all.
“People questioned whether his heart was still in it, but I never doubted it was," said the Arsenal manager.
“He has taken on another dimension. People forget he's still only 23, an age at which other people are just starting out. He is a fantastic influence and it's important that he leads this team to winning.”
NEWS: Arsenal batter Braga 6-0
Fabregas was heavily linked with a move away from Arsenal in the summer, after Barcelona publicly courted their former academy player.
The Spaniard, a World Cup winner with his country in South Africa, was himself torn between staying with the Gunners or returning to his native Catalonia.
At one point the transfer seemed destined to go ahead, as Barcelona put the wheels in motion and Fabregas reportedly made noises about wanting to leave.
But Wenger was confident that his star man would stay and has been proved right.
“He loves this club. People doubted that, but I never doubted it. He arrived here at the age of 16 and enjoys the way we play. What more do you want to be happy?”
Arsenal are one of the favourites for this season’s Champions League, and issued a remarkable declaration of intent in thrashing Braga.
With Fabregas around, for another season at least, Wenger will hope this is the year that his team can finally go all the way in Europe’s premier club competition.
By Jonathan Fadugbacomments