Former Arsenal striker John Hartson gave his opinion on why the club didn’t try to sign the Spain international when he returned to England after his stay at Barcelona.

Hartson suggested this to the Daily Star. He said Arsene Wenger did not try to re-sign idolised ex-captain 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.

However, Arsenal never lodged a bid or even any solid interest in their former skipper, and the player instead joined London rivals Chelsea, where he has failed to regularly produce the sort of form he showed at the Gunners and Barca. Wenger was initially heavily criticized for not swooping the player, despite having the first option to buy. The Welshman said:

“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.

“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” he added.