Cesc Fabregas felt he had to leave Arsenal and return to Barcelona sooner than planned because most of the players weren’t at ‘his level’.
The former Chelsea midfielder felt that only Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri were operating at the same level ‘mentally and technically’ and he grew frustrated by other players who didn’t have the same commitment or quality.
Fabregas, who now plays for Monaco, was club captain when he departed the Emirates in 2011 and admitted he was ‘suffering’ during his final years under Arsene Wenger.
‘I was the captain, I always felt so much pressure on myself,’ Fabregas told Arseblog. ‘I had to lead this team to win something… I gave everything.
‘Sometimes, I used to go home after we lost and I used to cry, I used to suffer, I used to spend sleepless nights suffering.
‘And then you lose a game, you’re in the bus like this destroyed and then you hear some players laughing, thinking about where they will be going out later. This was going on for a few years.
‘Yeah, we were playing beautiful football and I enjoyed that side of things but I was putting pressure on myself to lead, to do everything and at one point I felt kind of lonely.
‘Especially in the last two or three years, I felt Robin and Samir were the only players – it’s not an arrogant thing to say, it’s how I felt at that time – I felt they were the players who were at my level mentally and technically.
‘Robin, I couldn’t count on him unfortunately for many points of the season because he was injured. He was a world class player, a leader but he couldn’t help me on the pitch for many seasons unfortunately many parts of the year.
‘When I first left and I saw the season he made after when he was not injured at all and at the peak of his level, I was like “are you serious, man?”.’
Fabregas admitted he tried to leave a season earlier but ‘gave up’ on his Arsenal career after they failed to land the title in the 2010/11 season.
‘Many things came in my head, I have to admit I was a bit empty, I was drained mentally, physically, in my soul knowing I’m giving everything, knowing a few signings the club could have made but didn’t happen,’ added Fabregas.
‘I have to say that I asked to leave in 2010 after the World Cup, I asked Arsene, I was very serious about it. He told me absolutely not, I pushed it to be honest a little bit.
I went to his house, I went to his office. He said no chance, we kind of agreed if the next season was going to be the same then we’ll look into it.
‘Once we lose it [the league], I think we lost at Bolton, that was my last game for Arsenal. That day we lost I kind of gave up unfortunately.
It’s a really bad word to say but I was drained mentally, I didn’t think I could do it anymore.
‘I needed a new motivation. I needed people surrounding me living for football who are giving absolutely everything as I used to and you know it wasn’t meant to be. So in 2011 I said enough is enough and I really pushed it.
‘Seeing some behaviours from certain players or something like this made me feel I wanted to check something else.
‘If it was not because of that, I would not have left Arsenal at that time. It was the perfect club for me and I could not have left Arsenal for another two years at least.
‘Then Xavi would have been 33,34 and I could have moved at the right time, but I felt I have to. You are working, giving it your all. Every loss I felt it was my fault. It made me take the decision earlier than I should have.’