Less than two years later, a combination of personal and professional circumstances could see him leave his hometown for North London once again.
Barcelona would be willing to sell Fabregas for the right price this summer to raise funds for a rebuilding project, and Arsenal is the most likely destination, according to the Star.
“He does not want to quit his boyhood club — but has fired the exit rumours by trying to buy a £5.4 million ($8.4 million ) flat in London,” the report says.
“Fabregas’ girlfriend Daniella Semaan gave birth to the couple’s daughter Lia earlier this month and the pair are looking into bringing her up in England.
“He is under contract until June 2016 but has his World Cup place with the Spain team to worry about and could be tempted by the prospect of regular football in the Premier League.”
Fabregas was schooled in the Barcelona system before controversially signing with Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2003. He spent eight seasons with the Gunners, rising from teenage prospect to club captain. His longstanding desire to return to Spain — particularly to play with Barcelona’s stars and for its former head coach Pep Guardiola — was the driving force behind his £30 million ($46.5 million) switch from Arsenal to Barca in August 2011.
But Fabregas, 25, hasn’t had the same impact at Barcelona that he had at Arsenal. He is not an automatic starter, as the presences of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi push him to the substitute’s bench or into unfamiliar positions — particularly in the biggest games. Tito Vilanova replaced Guardiola before the 2012-13 campaign, and Fabregas struggled to adapt to the new head coach’s tactical demands at the start of the season. He gradually worked his way into form, but his first two seasons at Barcelona have made him the subject of criticism from fans and the media.
Fabregas said he wants to stay at Barcelona for the rest of his career in February. Barcelona could have other ideas. The soon-to-be La Liga champion reportedly wants to sign either Mats Hummels or Vincent Kompany, as it looks to strengthen its creaky defense this summer. Both would command over £25 million ($38.7 million) in the transfer market, while Brazilian star Neymar could also join the club this summer for a fee that could exceed £50 million ($75.6 million). Selling a squad player (even one as talented and committed as Fabregas) to facilitate a key signing seems like a reasonable option.
Fabregas remains a devoted Arsenal fan. He reportedly watches his former team play every week. In January, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he could see Fabregas returning in four or five years. The star report accelerates that timetable, but Arsenal will likely look to add a world-class player to its ranks this summer and it should have the funds to do so. Arsenal reportedly has first rights of refusal in the event Barcelona puts Fabregas on the transfer market, which could suit both clubs and the player himself.
The final and most important consideration is Fabregas’ relationship with Semaan and the birth of their infant daughter. If the parents want to raise Lia (and do it together) in England, it only makes sense that Fabregas would consider returning to the Premier League in the near future.