Arsène Wenger predicts that Cesc Fábregas will return to play for Arsenal in the future. Although no move is imminent for the duration of the midfielder's current deal with Barcelona, the Arsenal manager envisages a time when Fábregas will retread the path that originally took him from the Camp Nou to north London as a teenager.
"I'm not convinced that he won't come back here one day," Wenger says. "He is really an Arsenal man. He loves Arsenal and watches every game of Arsenal. But of course Barcelona was his home town where he grew up and you have to accept that will come into it, especially with them having the best team in the world. [Fábregas would not come back] in the next two, three years, certainly not, because he is linked with Barcelona. But maybe later."
Fábregas's departure was a tipping point that made Wenger reassess his philosophy at Arsenal and seek to build around more of a British base, with players such as Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade‑Chamberlain recently extending their deals. Negotiations with Theo Walcott are ongoing as Wenger seeks to send out a signal that young players will not always abandon Arsenal when they reach maturity. "At least it would give a positive message out that the way is not necessarily 'Exit'," Wenger says. "We are not yet there, I hope we will get there. What you want is the players to grow up together and say, 'We will be successful together.' We had that before. We had the period where we kept our players together for eight, nine years, with Henry, Vieira. Now it is a bit easier to keep them if they are British."
That said, Wenger maintains that, if he comes across a youngster of Fábregas's calibre, he would not think twice about doing everything he could to bring him to Arsenal. "Fábregas is an exception that I would try again, a world-class player you don't easily find."
Nor is it easy to find world-class managers and Wenger was not surprised to see speculation linking Fábregas's former coach at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, to Chelsea. "He started his career with caviar. Will he get caviar again at Chelsea, certainly, so it's a good ingredient again to do well. It depends on the quality of the player. He is a great manager but at the moment there is [Rafa] Benítez, who is a great manager as well."