Arsene Wenger’s long tenure at Arsenal started and ended at two different ends of the spectrum.
The early days were by no means plain sailing, particularly as he was a fairly unknown name that had to be bought out from J-League outfit Nagoya Grampus Eight, but he clinched the league and cup double in his first full campaign at the helm.
Another FA Cup followed the season after but then a nine-year drought ensued and in that time, the French veteran may have made one of his biggest-ever mistakes in charge of the north London giants.
That was something that was unheard of back then and would only put a target on the Frenchman’s back, should it go wrong. But it didn’t. The young Spanish maestro would go on to become the club captain and amass over 300 appearances in all competitions.
Barca’s then vice-president Rafael Yuste warned that they “won’t stop” in the attempts to sign him and one summer later, in August 2011, it all came to fruition as Fabregas made the switch to the Nou Camp for around £35m with £25.4m of that coming upfront.
In the five years prior to his departure, the Spain international was one of the most creative players in the entire world, having created 466 chances, which was more than what even Andrea Iniesta (214) and Xavi (455) had managed in the same timeframe for the Blaugrana.
Fabregas’ total of 57 goals and 97 assists for Arsenal has been sorely missed ever since as they are yet to win the Premier League again and only three times in the 11 years since have the Gunners finished third or better.
If the 5 foot 10 magician stayed for a few more years, perhaps Wenger could have clinched another title or two but instead, the now 35-year-old would go on to play for arch-rivals Chelsea, where he would win the Premier League two more times, only compounding the Gunners’ woes.
Fabregas’ departure was easily one of – if not the – biggest failure of the Frenchman’s tumultuous 22-year reign.