The 27-year-old Spain midfielder joined Arsenal at the age of 16 after training at Barcelona’s world-famous La Masia academy but after eight years in North London returned to his boyhood club in Catalonia.
Now, after a somewhat frustrating three years at Barcelona, the playmaker return to England to join the Gunners’ London rivals Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.
Fabregas’ performances in La Liga were at matter for debate and scrutiny for much of his time at the Camp Nou where he rarely appeared in his ‘free role’ as a playmaker as he had been deployed at Arsenal, for club and country in Spain, he has been deployed across the midfield and as a ‘false 9’ forward and Barcelona criticized him on their official website following his departure.
In his best season at Barcelona in 2012/13 Fabregas scored 11 goals and made 11 assists across 32 appearances in La Liga for Barcelona. In his best season with Arsenal in 2009/10 he scored 15 goals and made 13 assists across 27 appearances in the Premier League.
In 2012/13 he achieved a pass completion rate of 88.6%, which is much higher than his 79.3% for Arsenal in 2009/10. However, in his best term with the Gunners, he averaged twice as many shots per game, 3.2 on average to the 1.6 per game at Barcelona in his best season.
He made more than twice as many key passes for the Gunners, 3.5 per game in England to 1.6 per game on average in Spain. He was demonstrably more accurate and efficient in possession with Barcelona but more creative and decisive in his passing with Arsenal.
In possession of the ball, he was more comfortable and success at Arsenal, evidenced by his 1.9 dribbles per game to 1.6 on average with Barcelona. However, he was dispossessed more in the Premier League, 2.4 times per game to 1.4 times per game in La Liga.
Defensively, he was more effective for Arsenal, making 2.3 tackles per game to 1.4 per game at Barcelona, and he made significantly more interceptions, clearances, blocks and tactical fouls in England.
His passing and accuracy was higher with Barcelona but his ambition to dribble and get forward was greater at Arsenal. Ultimately, it is clear that he was more important at Arsenal in the context of the team than he was at his boyhood club where the abundance of world-class players around him was greater than it was at that time at Arsenal.
He undoubtedly gave the best account of himself in England in his early twenties and, in some respects, failed to reproduce that level of consistency and potency at Barcelona where he found himself less in demand, less in control, less in the spotlight and, in the end, less required than he had been in North London.