Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho's move for classy Cesc Fabregas

Chelsea deal can revitalise Spanish ace

By Ian Herbert

Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas can now fully focus on his World Cup dream after completing his move to Chelsea.

It is believed Barcelona received £30m from the Blues for the 27-year-old and Fabregas has signed a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United failed in a bid to sign Fabregas last summer but now he is pleased to be back in the Premier League with Chelsea and revealed Arsenal had decided against making a move for their former skipper.

"I do feel that I have unfinished business in the Premier League and now is the right time for me to return," he said in a 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 in the future.

"I considered all the other offers very carefully and I firmly believe that Chelsea is the best choice.

"They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies. They have an amazing squad of players and an incredible manager. I am fully committed to this team and I can't wait to start playing.

"It was extremely important to me that this transfer was completed before the World Cup so that my mind will only be focused on hopefully helping my country try to retain the trophy."

Fabregas' immediate priority is to help the world champions retain their glittering prize.

While Holland have spent four years evolving in their grim pursuit of revenge over Spain, their rivals are confident they can defend football's greatest prize using a six-year-old blueprint.

Andres Iniesta's extra-time goal at Soccer City in July 2010 denied the Oranje victory in the World Cup final and saw Spain follow up their triumph at Euro 2008 with ascension to the top of the world game.

Coach Vicente del Bosque even delivered a third trophy in 2012 as Spain trounced Italy to clinch the European title once again, this time in Kiev.

The 63-year-old's latest assignment demands he guides La Roja to a successful defence of the trophy they won in South Africa with a group of players labelled by some critics as "veterans".

But speaking ahead of tonight's showdown with Holland in Salvador, Del Bosque rejected that tag, insisting the 23 men he has taken to Brazil represent a potent blend of maturity and fearless promise.

He said: "The World Cup starts now. If we can concentrate throughout 21 days then hopefully we will live up to the standards required of a world champion.

"I won't reveal tomorrow's line-up. We will use the players who we think are the best – but we do have 23 very good players.

"I don't think this is a team of veterans, I'd say we're mature. We're simply not afraid of anything and that's not just because of our past successes.

"I'm not worried about the future either. Looking at the Under-21 team I think we can have high expectations.

"Holland have changed a lot over the last four years, but we have not.

"Holland have a great school of football and have always had good World Cups. They are worthy rivals.

"I hold (coach Louis) Van Gaal in high esteem and I'm sure he's prepared well for the game."

Spain must later face Chile and Australia in Group B and Barcelona midfielder Xavi admitted he would have readily coped without dancing around the physicality of the Dutch in the opening fixture.

"We arrived here with a lot of enthusiasm even though we know the group will be very difficult," he said.

"Starting off against the previous runners-up is not easy.

"But we got here by remaining faithful to our style and so it will continue. Hopefully our style of play will bring us more success."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who is preparing to play in his third World Cup with Spain, has identified Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben as Holland's main threat.

The pair played together at Real Madrid for three years and were most recently pitted against each other as the Spaniards met Bayern in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

"Robben is a great winger," Casillas said. "I've known him since we were team-mates and I've come up against him several times since. He's great.

"If we show the humility and enthusiasm we have over recent years then we'll be able to do well."

Another Spanish stopper, Jose Reina, is not concerned that rival players will try and provoke Diego Costa.

The Atletico Madrid striker, who has been heavily linked with a summer move to Chelsea, has developed a reputation for having a short temper – he has picked up 56 bookings in the last seven league seasons – and opposition players have repeatedly targeted the boisterous forward in the past two years.

"We shouldn't think that players are going to go after him – they are going to show respect to him because he's a spectacular player," Reina said.

"He is prepared for everything he could face and we are all going to support him.

"Diego is going to give a lot to this team and I'm sure he's going to give absolutely everything because that's the way he plays.

"That's his identity, that's how he plays the game and he's not going to change that now."

Source: Independent

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