London: Jose Mourinho has wasted no time in trying to wind up Arsene Wenger by claiming Cesc Fabregas did not want to rejoin Arsenal ahead of moving to London rivals Chelsea.
Arsenal decided against taking advantage of a buy-back clause on former midfielder Fabregas when he was made available by Barcelona this summer.
Fabregas had claimed earlier in his career that he would only play for Arsenal or Barcelona, but eventually joined Chelsea in a £27 million deal to become manager Mourinho’s first signing of the summer.
Arsenal signed Fabregas as a 16-year-old from Barcelona and he spent eight years at the club, captaining the team, before moving back to Spain in 2011.
Asked whether it was difficult to convince Fabregas to join Chelsea, Mourinho replied: “I spoke with him for 20 minutes. He really wanted to come to us. Arsenal had an option to interfere, but I think he was not open to that. I think he was very, very much in our direction, so it was an easy job for me.”
Mourinho’s claim comes after — Fabregas himself had said it was Arsenal manager Wenger who rejected the chance to re-sign him.
“Arsenal was the first option, for contractual reasons,” said Fabregas. “There was a clause that gave them the right to decide. We spoke to Wenger and he said that the space was very well filled by Mesut Ozil and it was hard to find a place for both of us in the team.”
Mourinho also gave his opinion on the debate surrounding pictures emerging this week of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere smoking in Las Vegas. “What football players do, millions and millions are watching, lots of kids are watching,” he said.
“I don’t think if a football player smokes one cigar or cigarette with friends in the summer when he is not training — I don’t think it affects his performance. What gets affected is that a kid at home says if a top football player can smoke then I can smoke and it is not a problem. It is more a social consequence than a physical consequence.
“Being angry is not a solution, but I would just explain exactly that everything they do or wear is part of the kids’ life.”
Other than Fabregas, Chelsea have signed striker Diego Costa and left-back Filipe Luis.