Chelsea have signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, as the midfielder confirmed that Arsenal turned down the chance to take him back.
The 27-year-old, who is away on World Cup duty with Spain, has joined on a five-year contract and will wear the No 4 shirt at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal had first option after his 2011 move from the Emirates to the Nou Camp but, when he decided to return to the Premier League, his old club were not interested.
“I do feel that I have unfinished business in the Premier League and now is the right time for me to return,” Fabregas said in a slightly provocative statement. “Yes, everyone knows that Arsenal had the first option to sign me. They decided not to take this option and therefore it wasn’t meant to be. I wish them well.”
Fabregas is Chelsea’s first confirmed summer signing but the deal for Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid is as good as done, as Chelsea respond to a trophy-less season.
With Fabregas and Costa joining January signings Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, Chelsea should be even stronger next season.
“I considered all the other offers very carefully and I firmly believe that Chelsea is the best choice,” Fabregas said, after signing the deal. “They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies. They have an amazing squad and an incredible manager. I can’t wait to start playing.”
Fabregas’s departure marks the end to a slightly disappointing three-year spell at the Nou Camp. Barça was his first club, which he left for Arsenal at the age of 16 and was always keen to return to. He won the Copa del Rey in 2012 and La Liga in 2013 but his time there coincided with a decline from Pep Guardiola’s side which won the 2009 and 2011 Champions Leagues.
Barcelona are close to signing Sevilla’s Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic and may pursue Atletico’s Koke.
“I would like to thank everyone at FC Barcelona where I enjoyed three wonderful years,” Fabregas said. “I will always be proud and honoured that I had a chance to play for such a great team.”
With Frank Lampard leaving, the 27-year-old is a natural replacement. He has played behind the striker, but may also play deeper in a 4-2-3-1 alongside Matic. Spain centre-back Gerard Pique was overheard last week saying Fabregas’ fee would be €33m (£26.6m).