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Post-Guardiola changes forced Fabregas to leave Barcelona

A change in formation follwoing Pep Guardiola's exit and a white lie from Xavi were factors in Cesc Fabregas leaving Barcelona for Chelsea in 2014.

A product of Barca's famed La Masia youth academy, Fabregas was plucked away by Arsenal before returning to Camp Nou in 2011 under Pep Guardiola.

The midfielder was chosen by Guardiola to aid the Catalan giants' transition from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 formation in order to make them more difficult to play against.

Fabregas was deployed in a free midfield role that often involved interchanging with star striker Lionel Messi, a position he relished.

"What he [Guardiola] wanted to do is change formation. I think after three years playing at a fantastic level and winning many things, he felt the other teams were catching the way of playing against Barcelona on a 4-3-3," said Fabregas on Sky Sports.

"He wanted to play a different system with three at the back, four in midfield plus Lionel Messi dropping deep – he wanted to dominate midfield more than anything – and to have to wide players always open and threatening to go in behind defenders.

"Yes, [I enjoyed it] because I had a lot of freedom. They tell you play wherever you feel you are dangerous and I love this kind of thing, because it's like a number 10, but with the mentality of the goalscorer."

However, following Guardiola's departure a reversion to a four-man defence made it difficult for Fabregas to retain a regular place in the line-up, while Xavi continued playing despite previously hinting to him he was nearing the end of his career in 2010.

Andreas Iniesta was subsequently forced out wide frequently and those issues combined to encourage Fabregas to look elsewhere for regular football.

"There's a little thing with Xavi in 2010 before the World Cup he told me 'you have to come, my Achilles, I will not last too long' – and then I came and he still played for five years and that didn't help," joked Fabregas.

"But 100 per cent it didn't help there were so many midfielders and there was one less spot than when I came under Pep."

Guardiola will take over at Manchester City following the conclusion of this season, and Fabregas expects him to bring something new to the Premier League.

"You always want to play against the best, 100 per cent Pep will bring new things to the Premier League, to Man City," he added.

"They will be a force next year, they are already this season, you see they are in the semi-finals of Champions League and fighting to be in the top three. All the teams will have to be even stronger."