Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho says he was left shocked in the summer when he discovered that Barcelona were ready to let Cesc Fabregas leave the club.
The Spain international was hotly tipped for a return to former club Arsenal as Barca began a summer shake-up that also saw Cristian Tello, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Song leave Camp Nou, but the midfielder instead joined the Blues in a €36 million deal.
And Mourinho says that while, he did not expect the midfielder to leave the Liga giants, he was not at all surprised that he did not return to the Emirates.
“I thought he was going to stay at Barcelona,” Mourinho is quoted as saying by The Mirror.
“I was looking at him as the natural successor of players that were getting older, like Xavi. The surprise for me was not that he didn’t go to Arsenal, but that he was leaving Barcelona.
“He’s 27 and it’s the perfect age. Physically, he’s on a high, mentally, he’s very stable, he has tactical education. Cesc’s stats are fantastic, the number of assists, the qualities he brings.”
Fabregas scored his first Chelsea goal against Schalke in the Champions League in midweek and has thrived in a an attacking midfield role under Mourinho, leading the Premier League assists table after creating six goals in just four matches.
He is once agian set to operate in an advanced midfield role against Manchester City on Sunday and Mourinho says Fabregas’ versatility is a major strength of his game.
“One of the reasons Cesc is so important is because he can play in any position,” the Portuguese continued.
“Even in Barcelona, he was playing many times as a No.9. He sometimes played on the left wing too.”
Chelsea arrive at the Etihad Stadium top of the table after four matches as the only team in England with a 100 per cent league record.