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Fabregas: “Arsenal Sold Vieira Because Of Me”
As promised here is another extract from Cesc Fabregas’s excellent interview with the Guardian newspaper.
Having earlier brought you Cesc’s comments about returning to Arsenal, this time we bring you quotes from Cesc where he suggests that Arsene Wenger decided to sell then-captain and midfield colossus, Patrick Vieira, in order to make room for the young Spaniard in his starting eleven.
It was 2005 and Vieira was approaching his 30th birthday after a glittering nine-year stint at Arsenal. Just 12 month before he had led the club unbeaten through an entire season to lift the Premier League title, while he had just scored the winning penalty to secure a shoot-out win over Man Utd in the 2005 FA Cup final.
Wenger made a controversial decision to sell his skipper to Juventus with many fans left scratching their heads at why we allowed such an influential player to leave. Well according to Fabregas, Vieira was sold so Wenger could make room for him in his starting eleven.
When asked by the Guardian newspaper is he learned things at Arsenal that he wouldn’t have had he stayed at Barcelona, Cesc said:
“I can’t be sure of that but, look, what I do know is that at 16 I was training with Thierry Henry and Bergkamp, [Robert] Pires and [Patrick] Vieira. I’d played 50 games at 17; at 18, I’d played in a Champions League final; at 21, a European Championship final; two years later, a World Cup final. It accelerated everything.
If I’d stayed at Barcelona, I’d have got there slower. It made me a more complete player in every sense. Giving me my debut when I was only 16 years old.
When I was 18 they sold Vieira so that they could put me into the side. They told me to my face, they gave me responsibilities. They made me captain when I was 21 … so many things that made me feel very special in that team.”
If this was in fact the reason Arsene sold Vieira, it was a HUGE call. Many people were saying at the time that he was sold because the boss felt Vieira’s knee’s had gone and he wouldn’t play at the top level into his 30′s. That proved incorrect as he went on to play a total of 179 games for Juve, Inter Milan and Man City until he was 35, so either Wenger got it wrong or he did in fact decide to sell the Frenchman to make room for Cesc.
A brave decision and it’s difficult to say whether Wenger got it right. On the one hand, we missed Vieira’s presence massively and many say we still miss a figure like him in the middle of the park. But on the other hand, would Fabregas have become the player he is today if Patrick had stayed?
For me, the ideal situation would have been for them to play together at Arsenal! But unfortunately we only got glimpses of what their potential partnership during the two years they were in north London together.