The Fabregas transfer saga timeline: how Barca got what they wanted

by 3 years ago · 9 minute read

A year ago the media tap-up circus from Barcelona went into fifth gear as the Catalans became desperate to win back the heart (and signature) of a player they didn’t care about ten years earlier. It’s important we all remember what went on between Barcelona and Arsenal as it shows not only what kind of club we’re dealing with on a regular basis, but also how Arsenal were disrespected and belittled for years just for wanting to keep our best players.

Barcelona are the club we have dealt with the most in the transfer market: since 2000-2001 we’ve made ten separate deals with Barca. It started with selling Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit for a combined £32m. We then signed Fabregas in 2003-2004 and sold Giovanni van Bronckhorst the season after that. Fran Merida, Thierry Henry and Alexander Hleb followed, and the most recent deals include Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin.

It’s safe to assume we will continue dealing with Barcelona in the future, although the following timeline will certainly show we shouldn’t be doing business with them at any level. Timeline created by Julián Palacios (@catalconspiracy). Prepare to be annoyed.

11 Sep 2003

After failing to guarantee first team opportunities, and not working hard enough to keep him, Barcelona lose Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal, where he makes his first team debut 40 days later in a Carling Cup match against Rotherham United.

2 Oct 2009

Xavi coins the now legendary phrase “He is a football player with Barça DNA” about Cesc Fabregas in an interview with El Mundo Deportivo.

26 Dec 2009

In a response to Joan Laporta claiming he wants to enter talks with Arsenal over Fabregas, chairman Peter Hill-Wood responds in an interview with the Daily Star, saying: “I am really pissed off with Barcelona and all that nonsense. It is not the first time they have done this and it is a most disrespectful and tiresome thing to do. You would think there would be some action you could take against them, but I suppose you cannot stop the man shooting his mouth off.”

31 Mar 2010

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood reveals to ESPN that “There was a private conversation that took place in the boardroom and assurances have been made at the highest possible level that Barcelona would not move for Fabregas when the summer transfer window opened.” He also added “Arsenal do not expect those assurances to be broken.”

14 Apr 2010

In an interview with the Daily Express, Lionel Messi is quoted saying “Cesc has a place for Arsenal in his heart, but he has Barcelona in his blood. He will want to win win the biggest prizes in football, and I expect him to do that at Barcelona. I don’t exactly know when that will be, but I expect him to be my Barcelona team-mate again at some point.”

15 Apr 2010

When asked about the boardroom deal preventing Barcelona from bidding on Fabregas, Txiki Begiristain is quoted in Spanish newspaper AS saying “If Barcelona considers it necessary for the team, [we will] go after him, always respecting the negotiations. We have never said that we will not try to sign Cesc Fábregas. We’ll see what happens.”

18 May 2010

Rafael Yuste, then vice-president of Barcelona, tells Catalonian radio station Ona FM he has been in contact with Cesc Fabregas, and that the player expressed his desire to join Barcelona. If true, Barca is in breach of FIFA rules stating you are not allowed to contact players without the written consent of their current club (usually after a transfer bid has been accepted).

20 May 2010

According to The Guardian, Barcelona urges Cesc Fabregas to publicly state that he wants to move to the Catalan club.

22 May 2010

When asked about Barcelona’s public courting of Fabregas, Peter Hill-Wood is quoted saying “It’s a funny way of doing business.”

25 May 2010

Joan Oliver (Barcelona’s director general) is quoted saying “We have had first contacts with Arsenal in which we made known our intention to talk and that’s the situation.”

31 May 2010

Joan Laporta is quoted saying “We are being prudent in the sense that we are not going to do things that are not logical. We have a player who has expressed his intention of coming to Barcelona. [Fabregas] has said it and I want to thank him publicly for that decision.”

1 Jun 2010

Barcelona submits a written offer of €35m for Cesc Fabregas.

2 Jun 2010

Arsenal rejects Barcelona’s €35m bid, releasing a statement saying “Yesterday evening we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain. […] To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word.”

2 Jun 2010

Xavi tells reporters “Two years ago, I said Cesc would end up playing for Barcelona, and now it is clearer than ever. He has also expressed publicly that he wants to come to Barcelona and when a player wants to move to some place he ends up going. It is clear that Cesc will come to Barcelona.”

4 Jun 2010

After Arsenal rejects Barcelona’s €35m bid, Joan Laporta is quoted in AS, saying “It’s a price that we consider to be his market value. Arsenal have rejected it. Now [sporting director Txiki Begiristain] must decide what should be the next step. We have to do everything we can to convince [Arsenal] that the best thing for all is to reach an agreement.” Laporta is also quoted saying “The club have full confidence that Arsenal will end up understanding the situation” on Barcelona’s official website.

17 Jun 2010

Sandro Rosell is quoted as being “convinced” Fabregas will move to Barcelona by the start of the 2010-2011 season.

21 Jun 2010

Joan Laporta is quoted saying “Arsenal will end up giving in, but I don’t know when that will be.”

4 Jul 2010

Sandro Rosell is seen talking to, and photographed with, Cesc’s family at the Catalunya MotoGP bike race.

5 Jul 2010

The Daily Star claims Pep Guardiola visited Spain’s World Cup squad and told Fabregas they would do everything in their power to sign him.

6 Jul 2010

After almost two months of courting Fabregas publicly through the media, Sandro Rosell complains to radio station RAC1 about the publicity he’s created, saying “The whole world knows he wants to come and that we want to sign him. It is a topic that has become so public and that is the worst thing you can do with a transfer, because it makes the selling club raise their expectations and you end up paying over the odds.” Rosell also states “We will never pay €50m or €60m for Cesc.”

12 Jul 2010

La Masia graduates Gerard Piqué, Pepe Reina and Carles Puyol “pranks” Cesc Fabregas by pulling a Barcelona shirt over his head at Spain’s celebrations for winning the World Cup.

13 jul 2010

Gerard Piqué is quoted saying “Cesc will one day sign for Barça.” Andres Iniesta is also caught courting Fabregas in a separate interview, saying “Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season. We would be delighted. Not just because he is a team-mate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club.”

15 Jul 2010

Sandro Rosell openly admits Barcelona have at least €50m to spend, but reiterates that Barcelona values Fabregas as worth no more than €40m.

16 jul 2010

Sandro Rosell insinuates that he thinks the buying club sets the value of a player, telling Catalan television “[Arsenal] don’t want to listen to offers or sell and they are not putting the player on the market. There was a strong dispute a few months ago and they have not forgotten it. [Fabregas] will come, even if it is not now, it will be next year. We will see. One thing that is certain is that we will not be throwing the house at trying to sign him. No shareholder would pay €60m or €70m for him. We would only pay his value in the transfer market.”

17 Jul 2010

Arsene Wenger tells The Sun “We always had a consistent attitude and were always reluctant to talk about Cesc’s departure. […] It is very important we give the impression that just because somebody wants a player from us, we do not just give in.”

18 Jul 2010

Carles Puyol is quoted in the Daily Star, saying “I think Arsenal need to respect his class and show the same class by giving the guy who has given so much to them the move that he and his family want. […] He is the future of Barcelona and Arsenal can’t do anything to stop that. I have just spent six weeks with him and there is only one club he wants to be at. […] The worst-case scenario is that we have to wait another 12 months for him to join us – but Arsenal, Barcelona and Cesc know that is the very worst-case scenario.”

27 Jul 2010

Barcelona board spokesman Toni Freixa complains to the media about Arsenal not being willing to sell Fabregas, saying “Arsenal don’t want to sit down and negotiate with us. It’s not a problem with the wishes of Cesc or of Barça – they simply don’t want to negotiate.”

30 Jul 2010

Carles Puyol is once again caught talking on Cesc’s behalf, saying “His heart is already in Barcelona, even though we must wait another year for his body to be here.” He goes on to say “Anybody who tries to convince themselves he wanted to stay at Arsenal is wrong.” In a related interview, Gerard Pique says (after spending a holiday with Fabregas in Ibiza) that “I do not feel a club should keep a footballer who wants to leave. Especially in this case, where Cesc has done everything for Arsenal.”

6 Aug 2010

Cesc Fabregas finally publicly commits himself to Arsenal, claiming “I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100% focused on playing for Arsenal. I am an Arsenal player and as soon as I step out on to the pitch that is the only club I will be thinking about.”

11 Feb 2011

In an interview with The Guardian, Xavi is quoted saying “I think that a footballer ends up playing where he wants. [Fabregas] has to end up here.” When asked about the public courting of Cesc causing trouble, Xavi responds “Really? I hardly spoke then. I imagine they wouldn’t have liked that.” He then goes on doing the thing he thinks we didn’t like, adding “I also say it because I’m thinking of Cesc. He wants to come here. Barcelona has always been his dream. This situation is a [bummer] for him.”

28 Mar 2011

Just in time for the new transfer window, Xavi is once again caught talking on Cesc’s behalf, telling Sport “I would like Cesc to come to Barca and he has also said that he wants to.”

3 Jun 2011

In an interview with Cadena COPE radio station, David Villa is quoted saying “As a player, everybody knows what Barcelona brings [for players]. And as a person, [Fabregas] deserves to return to Barcelona. His family is here and it is where he started. Having him would be a great joy and I’d be happy for him because he deserves it, and I’d be happy to have him as my team-mate.”

4 Jun 2011

According to El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have clearly broken FIFA tapping up rules by agreeing a five-year deal with Cesc Fabregas – without written consent from Arsenal, and before agreeing a transfer fee with the north London club.

17 Jun 2011

Sandro Rosell is quoted in an interview implying a player is like a second-hand car, saying “If last summer we offered €40m for Cesc, and since then there has been wear and tear, now he’s worth less.” He goes on to say “In the case that we were interested, our offer would be reasonable. We would not go overboard.”

21 Jun 2011

Sandro Rosell is quoted on Catalan TV station TV3, saying “[Cesc Fabregas] is doing everything he can to come, [Pep] Guardiola knows the values of players and Cesc’s value is less than €40m.”

23 Jun 2011

According to Barcelona-based radio station Ona FM, Barca made a formal bid of between €30-35m for Fabregas a couple of days earlier, which was rejected by Arsenal.

30 Jun 2011

According to The Guardian, Barcelona makes a new offer for Cesc Fabregas, this time believed to be closer to €39m. Arsenal are clear on the matter: Fabregas is not for sale.

2 Jul 2011

According to El Mundo Deportivo, Barca bid €35m for Fabregas, but only €29m in cash, as they feel Arsenal owe them €6m for Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin. However, Arsenal already paid Barcelona a mandatory compensation package for the two players (worth around £750,000), but the Catalan club feel entitled to more, and want to take that out of the non-existing Fabregas deal.

3 Jul 2011

According to El Mundo Deportivo, Joan Ferrando (Cesc Fabregas’ personal trainer and fellow Catalan) has told Fabregas that if he comes to Barcelona, his injury problems would stop.

5 Jul 2011

In an interview with Spanish TV network laSexta, Andres Iniesta is caught talking on Cesc’s behalf, saying “Cesc? It’s possible it can happen, hopefully. We’ve talked by phone and he’s calm, awaiting the events.”

7 Jul 2011

Speaking to Spanish news outlet EFE, Liverpool goalkeeper and fellow La Masia graduate Pepe Reina claims “Cesc wants to join Barca, that’s what he has always said.” Meanwhile, Dani Alves is quoted in an interview with RAC1 saying “I am convinced Cesc will join us. Arsenal are tourist class. Barcelona are in business class and any player would want to join us.”

8 Jul 2011

Ex-Barcelona president Joan Gaspart is quoted saying “Cesc is a great player, his signing would be good, but is not needed,” in an attempt to send a message to Arsenal that Barca won’t pay over the odds for Fabregas.

12 Jul 2011

Speaking to Arsenal’s official website, Arsene Wenger is quoted saying “You do not educate a player for eight years as we have done only to want him to go once he is at an age to deliver.” He also talks about the quotes from Sandro Rosell in June, saying “[Saying he’s worth less this year] is disrespectful to Cesc.”

13 Jul 2011

Albert Benaiges – ex-youth coach at Barcelona when Fabregas was at La Masia – attempts to re-write history, claiming “Cesc didn’t want to leave but his parents decided. Arsenal took advantage of the elections at Barca.” Meanwhile, Xavi is quoted on Barcelona’s official website, saying “I spoke to Cesc in Ibiza and he said he was suffering because he wanted to come.”

15 Jul 2011

Estanislau Fors i Garcia – the mayor of Catalan town Arenys de Mar where Cesc Fabregas grew up – wants in on the media tap-up circus, adding “We want him to come right away, he is experiencing a kidnapping. If the English are so honourable they should behave properly. [Arsene Wenger] has to stop clowning around because it’s disorienting for all of us.”

15 Jul 2011

Talking about Xavi’s quotes on Barcelona’s official website, Arsene Wenger hints at the blatant instruction from Barca to their players to tap up Fabregas through the media, saying “I don’t think it’s a sentence big enough to report a club to FIFA. [The tapping up] has to stop, of course. Xavi has no direct part to play in that story and I don’t see why he should, unless he has an official job to do for Barcelona.”

21 Jul 2011

Reports (later proved to be correct by Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis) comes in about Cesc Fabregas refusing to train in a bid to force a move to his dream club.

12 Aug 2011

The deal between Arsenal and Barcelona is agreed, but Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué can’t hide their excitement, leaking the deal on their Twitter accounts. As the deal involved a non-disclosure agreement until the official confirmation from Arsenal, Barcelona decides to delay the signing until the following Monday.

14 Aug 2011

During Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in the first leg of the Super Cup, Arsenal officially confirms the Fabregas deal, and Sandro Rosell is quoted giving the basic numbers as €29m initial fee and €10m add-ons, divided into two €5m payments. First €5m payment is a €1m per year reduction of Cesc’s salary for his first five years at the club, prompting some supporters to think Fabregas took a pay cut to give Arsenal €5m (he didn’t). The second €5m is a potential trophy bonus; if Barcelona wins three league titles and one Champions League title within the first five years of Cesc’s transfer, Arsenal receive the full €5m.

15 Aug 2011

Cesc Fabregas signs his five-year contract with Barcelona, who installs a €200m buy-out clause for the player they’ve repeatedly claimed isn’t worth more than €40m. The saga is finally over, and Barcelona has shown the world how persistence and circumvention of FIFA rules makes it possible to buy world-class players for silly money.

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  • Jackie

    Barcelona are a disgraceful & pathetic excuse of a club. Always acting holier than thou but are in fact complete con artists.

    • FT

      Butt hurt much?

    • sergio

      oh shut the fuck up your a disgrace cunt

  • Mart

    Barcelona – what a bunch of classless c*nts.

  • Fidel Gooner Leblanc

    Ugh, classless organization. I’m so angry all over again.

    • FT

      Why are you butt hurt?

  • sandra350

    Totally missing from this are Cesc’s own comments on Spanish radio and in at least 2 Spanish periodicals about what he felt was missing in the AFC dressing room (winners you could look up to like Vieira) and how much he wanted to return to Barca. Also missing is Cesc’s deliberate choice to go on strike last summer. It’s all very well focusing on Barca’s antics but none of it would’ve gone on if CESC hadn’t approved of it.

    • Ix Techau

      The strike thing is in there! 21 July 2011. =)

    • Hardkokt

      This article is missing the point. When different players commented on Cesc (it’s not like they don’t get asked) they basically told the truth. Barca wanted Cesc, Cesc wanted Barca. He tried to remain professional, but eventually got frustrated by Arsenals refusal to negotiate a transfer. Wonder where’s the article critizising Arsenal for “stealing” Barca youth players?

      • Ix Techau

        You do realise that it’s against FIFA regulations to tap up players, right?

        • Carlo’s Eyebrow

          “Tapping up” happens all the time, and all the clubs do it. Focusing on ONE particular team doing it to ONE particular player is misguided. Brian Clough and many other former managers and players have said it’s basically the norm in England. I find it funny that then Barca are accused of being sanctimonoius.

  • FT

    “I am convinced Cesc will join us. Arsenal are tourist class. Barcelona are in business class and any player would want to join us.”

    It is so true. Why would a player of Cesc’s caliber want to stay at a low end club like Arsenal?

    • BoxlessCat

      This is what money does to people… How quickly did Dani Alves forgot about being poor? The arrogance.

    • Fuck this guy.

      I took a look at your comment history. You’re a despicable piece of shit.

      Come around here and I’ll fucking knock your face in, you cunt.

    • trvsbrkr

      why someone who don’t support arsenal comes to visit arsenal fan website? butt hurt much?

  • GordonTurnbull

    Nicely done and completely annoying by Barca. You missed the bit where Barca players used Arsenal facilities and posted photos of themselves with Cesc’s portrait within the club. I would be interested to see one for the Thierry Henry to Barca saga as well, because similar tactics were employed (players and club talking to media, a prank with a shirt in a CL game, all ahead of that CL final too). No class at all.

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  • Jim

    Given the number of transfers between the two, it seems like the clubs themselves are at least on relatively decent terms…

  • Amelia

    How dare Alves say arsenal are tourist class. Very pissed with this statement

  • Yash

    Barcelona- A bunch of fucking cunts.

    • sam

      amen. They are a disgrace to world football.

    • sergio

      yash the biggest fucking ass hole

      • Yash

        That’s all you got bro?

  • Hardkokt

    The conclusion that you should not deal with Barca is funny. You sold a lot of overrated players for big money and picked up cheap talent the other way. I think Barca would be better off not doing business with Arsenal…

    • Ix Techau

      That would be fine, we don’t need to do any business at all with the hubris and arrogance of the morally bankrupt self-acclaimed demigods of Europe. They have no business ethics and zero class.

  • Aakash Jain

    cesc u deserve arsenal.

    • sergio

      yea but he deserves barcelona better

  • Nick

    Bunch of douchebags

  • Phil

    this makes me really really pissed off – especially after cesc has now joined the worst team in London: Maureen’s Chelsea Bus Parkers