John Hartson outlines why Arsenal did not try to re-sign Cesc Fabregas two years ago

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

The former Arsenal captain left Barcelona to join Chelsea in 2014.

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas challenges Portsmouth's Aaron Mokoena

Former Arsenal striker John Hartson has suggested to the Daily Star that Arsene Wenger did not try to re-sign idolised ex-captain Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona as he felt it would stunt the development of young up-and-coming stars at the Emirates Stadium.

Fabregas was an immensely popular figure amongst Gunners fans after rising from the academy - which he had joined from Barca as a 16-year-old - to become captain and star man at the North London club.

After scoring 57 goals in 303 appearances for the side, his departure in 2011 to return to the Catalan side was mourned by Arsenal supporters, and when reports surfaced that he was looking to leave the Nou Camp three years later, there were widespread calls for Wenger to bring him back.

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring their first goal

However, Arsenal never lodged a bid or even any solid interest in their former skipper, and the Spain international instead joined London rivals Chelsea, where he has failed to regularly produce the sort of form he showed at the Gunners and Barca.

Though Wenger was criticised at the time by frustrated fans for not making a move for Fabregas, Hartson says that the veteran French boss believed shoehorning the star back into his midfield would limit the opportunities that the club's group of talented youngsters would get to shine.

The Welshman told the Star: "Wenger will never want to buy players too similar to what he's already got. He won't go out and spend all that money just to get someone who is already as good as what we've got.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

"I think that's the reason why Wenger didn't try to bring Fabregas back a couple of years ago before he went to Chelsea. We had players like [Aaron] Ramsey, [Francis] Coquelin, etc and Wenger was thinking 'I want to bring these young players through'.

"He would have thought maybe Fabregas will stunt these guy's developments and affect their chances for first team football."

In the event, Wenger may be satisfied with his decision. In the last couple of years, young player such as Coquelin, Alex Iwobi, whilst January signing Mohamed Elneny and new arrival Granit Xhaka were aimed at adding more steel to the midfield.

Fabregas was not the player Arsenal needed two years ago, with the club having splashed out on Mesut Ozil a year earlier. He would have provided more service from midfield, but if there's anything this season proved it's that Arsenal's problem is consistency up front rather than lack of creativity from deep.

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas scores their first goal from the penalty spot

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