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Man Utd legend Gary Neville reveals what team-mates really thought of Wayne Rooney

Manchcester United legend Wayne Rooney was loved by his United and England team-mates, according to Gary Neville. Neville has revealed how United players forgave Rooney for wanting to leave the club because he was such a popular character.

Despite stating he wanted to leave the Red Devils on two occasions, Rooney ended up staying and becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Actions such as that may lead to some players becoming less popular in dressing rooms but not when it came to Rooney, as Neville explained.

“He’s an honest lad but he was also driven, he had that stubbornness about him,” Neville said on Sky Sports’ Off Script podcast.

“He was getting close to the line that I’d seen players get to before and obviously they didn’t survive that line.

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“I think that when Wayne did that I thought that was the end for him, I thought that would be it, that the manager would sort of manage him out of the club over the next few months.

“And then obviously there was a new contract announced and we were all delighted from a point of playing because he was popular.

“What I would say is Wayne was so popular in the dressing room it was untrue.

“The players absolutely loved him. The England players loved him, when I was a coach, when I was a player.

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“The Manchester United players loved him, there was no one who didn’t like Wayne Rooney.

“So I think they forgave him for what would be his reasons for doing it because they liked him so much and he built up so much credit with us.

“And I think you’ve got to understand, one of the things we had in the dressing room over a 20-year period was tolerance.

“Tolerance of each other, we were all different, we were all from different countries, we were all from different parts of the world, we were all different ages.

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“We all had different characters.”

Neville also revealed how Rooney’s arrival was the signing that excited him the most when he was a United player.

“Wayne Rooney, Wayne Rooney’s probably No 1,” Neville said.

“I played with him with England and I knew what we were getting.

“We were getting a world-class player and fearless and horrible and everything that you’d want in a football player.

“Goals, tackling, running, endeavour, grit, everything that you’d want in a football player.

“So he was the one that excited me.”

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What Arsenal and Everton were told about Jonathan David transfer before Barcelona talks

Arsenal and Everton face being defeated by Barcelona in the race for Gent rising star Jonathan David. The 20-year-old forward forward is being eyed by the Gunners as a potential replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette while he is on Toffees director of football Marcel Brands’ long list of transfer targets.

Gent are expected to sell David, who has scored 23 goals in all competitions this term, to the highest bidder in the summer.

Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven are also monitoring developments.

But, according to the Daily Star, Barcelona have attempted to trump their transfer rivals by launching a move for his signature.

Nou Camp bosses are eager to strengthen their attack and have already held talks with the player’s representatives.

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Gent are determined to hold out for £22million after rejecting what would have been a club-record fee for David from an unnamed bidder in the last transfer window.

The Belgian club’s stance represents a massive hike in price from what they told Arsenal and Everton before Barcelona’s interest came to light.

The Daily Star claim the Premier League duo were told David would be available for £13m due to the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Arsenal and Everton could hold an advantage over Barcelona, however.

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The Canada international, who has 11 goals in 12 appearances for his country, has admitted he would “love to play” in the Premier League.

When asked about the transfer rumours, he told the Guardian: “I don’t really focus on that or think much about it.

“Right now I’m playing almost every minute of every game and that has really helped me get to the level that I need to be. I just need to take a good step where I can make sure I am getting enough time on the pitch to keep developing. I don’t want to go somewhere and just stay on the bench so it’s about taking the right step.

“I want to become one of the best strikers in the world. That’s my goal. The Premier League is the best in the world and most competitive so obviously that is somewhere I would love to play in the future.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus star open to Man Utd transfer if coronavirus prompts exit

Cristiano Ronaldo would be open to moving back to Manchester United if he’s forced to quit Juventus this summer, reports say. The Portugal international spent six years at Old Trafford earlier in his career, winning three Premier League titles as well as the 2008 Champions League crown before leaving for Real Madrid.

Ronaldo loved his time at Manchester United with the Portugal international establishing himself as a club legend throughout his six years at Old Trafford.

He took a little while to find his feet in England but, after the 2006 World Cup, was a player transformed.

Ronaldo helped United end Chelsea’s Premier League dominance under Jose Mourinho, propelling them to three league titles.

He was also on target as the Red Devils beat the Blues in the 2008 Champions League final – although missed a spot-kick in the decisive penalty shootout.

Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Juventus, with the Serie A giants in a tricky situation because of the coronavirus crisis.

The 35-year-old, along with his Juventus team-mates, has agreed to take a pay cut in order to aid the club financially.

But he could leave if the Serie A giants continue to struggle to balance the books.

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And Marca say Ronaldo would be open to returning to United, with the club a ‘real option’ should Juventus decide to cash in.

It’s said he’s always left the door open for a return.

And United also have the financial muscle in order to bring Ronaldo in again, 11 years after his sensational departure.

For now, it still appears unlikely.

United have focused on signing younger, proven talent ever since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer succeeded Jose Mourinho as manager.

But they do make the odd exception and Ronaldo was one of Ed Woodward’s four fantasy targets when he replaced David Gill in 2013.

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Solskjaer played alongside Ronaldo, too, which would make the possibility of a return potentially more appealing.

But whether United choose to pursue their old No 7, particularly at a time where they’re keen on Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish, is something only time will tell.

Meanwhile, former United star Gary Neville recently opened up on when Ronaldo left – admitting the English weather was a ‘big problem’ for the Portugal skipper.

Neville told Sky Sports: “I think because he did the interview after the 2008 final where he sort of alluded to the fact that he was going, it was almost like you had an advanced warning.

“So you were almost ready-prepared for it, you knew he was leaving the year after.

“It was coming, it was obvious that one day he would want to go and experience Madrid and La Liga.”

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He then added: “I didn’t speak to Cristiano for instance about him staying at the club for longer. I think I may have said to him during the year when he was maybe… the weather was a big problem for Cristiano.

“I think he also wanted to obviously live in Spain and do La Liga. But the weather was a big problem for him and I felt like he’d almost travelled his path, he’d done the journey. And I didn’t feel that anything I was going to say was going to bring him out of that.

“I think generally with players that were leaving there were very few who were leaving to go up. Now Cristiano you could argue going to Real Madrid and winning four or five European Cups is a step for him where he wanted to challenge himself.

“The players that were leaving mainly were because they had come to the end of the road for one reason or another, either their contracts had run out, or their age was getting too much, or the manager had had a word with them saying they’re not going to play football too much anymore.

“Most of the players that left Man United would have wanted to stay.

“Let’s be clear, 99 per cent of the players that left Man United during the time I was there would have stayed if the manager had said you’re staying. There’s only the one or two per cent who left against the wishes of the club.”

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Man Utd market operators exploring Edinson Cavani transfer – but there’s a problem

Manchester United market operators are looking into the possibility of signing Edinson Cavani on a free transfer this summer, reports say. The PSG star’s time in France is winding doubt and the Uruguay international is ready to pursue a new challenge elsewhere. He was linked in January but, on that occasion, the club ended up swooping for Odion Ighalo instead.

Manchester United have long admired Cavani, with interest in the 33-year-old dating back to when he played in Italy with Napoli.

The Red Devils looked to sign the Uruguay international when Louis van Gaal ruled the Old Trafford roost but, after being given an indication that he could move, he ended up staying in France.

Now, Cavani is poised to become a free agent at the end of the season.

And Area Napoli say that United market operators are looking into the possibility of signing the PSG striker for nothing this summer.

However, there’s a problem.

Boca Juniors also want to sign the veteran and pair him alongside Carlos Tevez next season.

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And Cavani would prefer to stay in Europe with Spain or Italy instead.

It’s claimed he was offered to Lazio, who would like to field him alongside Ciro Immobile up top.

But their offer didn’t please the striker and what he does next, with his contract winding down, is something only time will tell.

Boca certainly seem frontrunners for the player.

And, speaking recently, former United star Diego Forlan expressed a belief that Cavani would flourish back in South America.

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“I imagine the shirt of Boca’s, like River, is very heavy because they are so prestigious in South America, they always fight for the Argentine championship and the Libertadores,” Forlan said.

“In the prime of their career it is more difficult for them (top players) to come to either due to the economic issue, because there is no comparison to what they earn in European football.

“But if you look at the professional side and not the economic side, it is a very big challenge and a tempting challenge.

“Cavani is a top player and I could see him there.”

Meanwhile, in February, former United star Robin van Persie called on Solskjaer to bring Cavani to the Premier League.

“Edinson Cavani. I would definitely go for Cavani,” he said when asked who he’d go for.

“He’s very fit, he’s a proven goalscorer, a goal machine, he has proven it at Napoli, PSG and Uruguay.

“With him, if he starts, he will get you 25 goals a season.

“I’ve watched him play, I’ve played against him, he is like a proper goalscorer. He lives by scoring goals so I’d go for him.”

Chelsea were linked with Cavani in January but the Blues are expected to pursue other targets in the summer window. 

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Chelsea held advanced talks with Liverpool star before he joined Reds

Chelsea were in advanced talks to sign Alisson from Roma in 2018 but missed out to Liverpool after hesitating over the transfer, according to reports. The Reds experienced no such indecision and splashed out £67m in what was then-world record fee for a goalkeeper.

They have been richly rewarded with Alisson establishing himself as one of the best stoppers on the planet, but things could have been so different if Chelsea had acted swiftly.

The Blues were reportedly in advanced talks to sign the Brazilian, who was supposedly keen on a move to Stamford Bridge.

But they missed their opportunity to finalise a deal because they were trying to convince want-away star Thibaut Courtois to remain in west London, according to The Athletic.

Courtois had made it clear that he desired a move to Real Madrid and went on strike before the start of the 2018/19 campaign in order to force through a move.

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However, Director Marina Granovskaia and the rest of the Chelsea hierarchy believed there was a chance to convince the Belgian to change his mind.

This ultimately proved a fruitless effort and the time wasted had a big impact of the Blues’ transfer plans as Liverpool swooped in for Alisson.

Chelsea instead turned to Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, with the young Spaniard one of the only other suitable stoppers on the market at the time.

And the Blues made sure they got their man this time, setting a new world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper by stumping up £72m.

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But this signing currently represents a rare mistake from the Chelsea recruitment team, who were backed into a corner by Courtois’ actions.

The Blues are yet to see value for money and the jury is still out on the 25-year-old, who was dropped by manager Frank Lampard earlier this season following a string of poor performances.

Kepa was replaced by 38-year-old Willy Caballero but did regain his first-team spot shortly before the coronavirus pandemic brought about the postponement of all UK football fixtures.

The Blues keeper is now being linked with a summer exit while a host of high-profile names including Jan Oblak, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Andre Onana, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nick Pope, Dean Henderson and Juan Musso have been touted as his replacement.

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As for Alisson, the 27-year-old has formed part of a resolute rearguard at Anfield and proved a vital component of Liverpool’s resurgence under Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds missed out on the Premier League title by a single point last season but won the Champions League and also picked up silverware in the Club World Cup.

They are dominating the league this time around and sit 25 points clear of Manchester City, although it remains to be seen if and when the current campaign will be completed.

Alisson has made 79 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions since his move, and has let in just 11 goals in 20 league outings this term.

Meanwhile, Kepa has conceded 43 goals in 33 appearances across all competitions so for this season, managing just eight clean sheets.

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Arsenal keen on two Serie A stars but Juventus could push £20m transfer fee up

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is looking to bolster his squad with young talented players and the club are interested in Empoli midfielder Hamed Traore and his younger brother Amad Traore, who plays for Atalanta.

According to 90min, a source has confirmed that Arsenal have added both 20-year-old Hamed and 17-year-old Amad to their summer transfer shortlist.

However, while Amad, who is a winger, could be easier to sign, it is claimed Arsenal may face some difficulties signing his older brother.

Hamed is currently halfway through his two-year loan spell with Sassuolo, from parent club Empoli.

However, the attacking midfielder has impressed scouts with his performances, which has seen him score three goals and provide one assist in 20 Serie A appearances.

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As part of the deal with Serie B side Empoli, Sassuolo have an obligation to buy him when the loan ends in 2021.

In addition to this, the report claims that Juventus also have first refusal on Hamed, which in turn is expected to push his price up.

And while Arsenal understand how difficult negotiations might be to sign Hamed, they believe a fee of £20million could be enough to convince Sassuolo to sell the player.

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Meanwhile, Arsenal will only have to deal with Atalanta to sign Amad but still face some hurdles.

The right-winger might have only made three senior appearances for Atalanta this season, but the club does see him as a potential star of the future.

Amad has scored one goal in three Serie A appearances this campaign but has also been impressive for the club’s youth team where he has scored seven goals and provided 11 assists in 24 matches.

However, the report claims that the Italian club does not want to let him walk away so early in his development.

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And while Arsenal are interested in both brothers they are also monitoring other transfer targets and are willing to walk away if the costs are too high, rather than spend the majority of their summer budget on just two players.

Arsenal have also been linked with Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez and Valencia midfielder Carlos Soler.

Arteta also wants to strengthen several areas of his squad including his defence and the north London club are also monitoring promising Bayern Munich defender Chris Richards.

The Gunners also have RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano on their shortlist but do face stiff competition to sign the 21-year-old as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real are also interested.

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Arsenal offered James Rodriguez transfer boost as Valderrama weighs in on Real Madrid exit

Arsenal have been handed a boost in their pursuit of James Rodriguez after what Colombia legend Carlos Valderrama said about the star’s future at Real Madrid. The Gunners have emerged as one of three Premier League clubs who are interested in signing the attacking midfielder in the summer transfer window, according to reports in Spain.

Rodriguez has struggled to cement a place in Real’s first team in recent years and things haven’t improved for the 28-year-old since returning from his two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich.

The 28-year-old has had to deal with a couple of injuries this season but has still only been given 13 appearances in all competitions this campaign.

As a result, Rodriguez could look to leave the Bernabeu this summer in search of more minutes.

And Carlos Valderrama, who is regarded by some as Colombia’s greatest ever player, has urged his compatriot to leave Real.

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“James is big enough to make his own decisions now,” Valderrama told Caracol Radio.

“If it was me, I’d be running away from Madrid.

“He’s good enough to play for any team. I wouldn’t doubt him for an instant.

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“He’s a great player, he’s already proved it.

“He can start for any other team, he’s got the quality to play anywhere in the world.”

However, according to Spanish publication Marca, Arsenal will have to battle it out with Everton and Wolves to sign the Colombian playmaker.

The report claims that Arsenal are long-time admirers of Rodriguez and were the first club to make contact with Real over a possible transfer this summer – something which the player is appreciative of.

Everton are also in the running to sign James, because of the midfielder’s relationship with Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti.

James was given minutes at Real during Ancelotti’s time in charge of the club and the Italian also tried to bring the player to Napoli, although he wasn’t successful in his attempt.

Wolves have also expressed an interest and have a good relationship with the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes.

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Mendes helped finalise deals for goalkeeper Rui Patricio and midfielder Joao Moutinho to join the club in 2018.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane has his own transfer targets this summer, with Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland high on his list.

As Rodriguez’s current contract is due to end in 2021, Los Blancos are looking to raise funds by selling the player to improve Zidane’s squad.

Real signed Rodriguez from Monaco for £71m back in 2014 after the player won the Golden Boot at the Brazil World Cup.

But since securing a move to Madrid the player has only gone on to make 124 appearances for Real, during which he has scored 37 goals and provided 42 assists.

His form appeared to improve during his time with Bayern, where he managed to score 15 goals and provide 20 assists in 67 appearances for the club.

However, the club rejected the option to buy Rodriguez outright for an additional £37m (€42m), after having spent £12m (€13m) to bring him to the Allianz Arena on loan.

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Arsenal star picked out who Mikel Arteta’s Gunners squad will be ‘frustrated’ with

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been warned that performances from Mesut Ozil will likely frustrate his team-mates. That is the opinion of former Gunners striker Alan Smith.

Ozil has won several trophies while at Arsenal since joining from Real Madrid in 2013, but the 31-year-old often still divides opinion about whether he is playing to his full potential.

And Smith, who won multiple trophies with the Gunners including two league titles and the FA Cup, is left “immensely frustrated” with the playmaker.

Ozil has only made 23 appearances this season, during which he has scored one goal and provided three assists.

And Smith believes the current Arsenal squad must also share in his annoyance about the midfielder’s performances.

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“He’ll be regarded as one of those immensely talented players and Arsenal fans certainly can see how talented he is,” Smith told Sky Sports.

“His team-mates can recognise that as they would see that every day, but even they will be frustrated.”

Smith doesn’t think Ozil’s Arsenal career can be classed as a success and cannot see Gunners boss Mikel Arteta winning the Premier League with the German in his side.

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Arsenal are currently ninth in the Premier League table and are eight points off fourth-placed Chelsea, with a game in hand.

Although Ozil has made nearly 100 more appearances for Arsenal than Real Madrid, he still hasn’t surpassed his assist tally for Los Blancos.

While at Real he scored 27 goals and provided 80 assists in 159 matches, but so far at Arsenal, he has scored 44 goals and provided 77 assists in 254 appearances.

“It’s difficult to say if he’ll look back and say he’s given himself the best chance of being a success,” Smith said.

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“I don’t know him as a lad. I don’t know what he’s like in training but I would imagine he’s pretty similar to what he’s like on a matchday.

“But look at his record, and he’s been Germany’s footballer of the year [five] times and he’s a World Cup winner. He’ll be thinking, ‘what I’m doing has reaped dividends. I’ve been successful’.

“I’m trying to play devil’s advocate here, but there are times when you’re immensely frustrated by him.

“I don’t think his Arsenal career would be classed as a success. They’re not going to win the league any time soon with him in the side.”

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Man Utd warned they should only swap Paul Pogba for Matthijs de Ligt on one condition

Manchester United should only swap Paul Pogba for Matthijs de Ligt if they have a replacement midfielder lined up, says ESPN FC pundit Alejandro Moreno. United are reportedly ready to offer Pogba to Juventus in a deal that would see De Ligt head in the opposite direction to Old Trafford. Juve are keen on re-signing Pogba, four years after selling him for a then world-record fee of £89million.

De Ligt has not settled at Juventus as well as he and the club would have wanted following his £67.5m arrival from Ajax last summer.

Moreno believes the Holland international would undoubtedly strengthen United’s back line.

But he believes, despite the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January, the Red Devils would still have to have a like-for-like replacement for Pogba if he were to leave.

Moreno said: “Well that’s assuming that you actually have a player in mind and player in place that is going to take that position in the middle of midfield for Manchester United because, well, De Ligt yeah would solve a problem in the backline alongside [Harry] Maguire but then you still have a Pogba-sized hole in that middle of midfield.

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“You have Bruno Fernandes who has done a wonderful job but you also have to then address that situation.

“If there’s no Pogba, if there’s no box-to-box midfielder, who is that guy going to be?

“So if you have that player in mind and you have a plan in place in order to acquire that player, then so be it.

“But until then, you have to resolve what the Pogba issue means to you long term.

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“So if you just want to get rid of the guy, yeah sure get value in return in Matthijs de Ligt.

“But you also have to address what you’re doing in the middle of midfield.”

United were interested in signing De Ligt before he chose to join Juventus.

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“A lot has been said and written and it seemed that I made a decision overnight, but of course that wasn’t the case,” De Ligt told Voetbal International.

“It was very annoying that so much was speculated. I tried to shut myself off, although with all those social media that is never entirely possible

“I have been laughing at such messages for a long time, but it also makes you tired at some point.

“There was something every day. Suddenly even my father was too fat, which is why a club [United] would not want me.

“Then you think ‘Come on man…’. At some point it gets annoying.”

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Cesc Fabregas snubs Guardiola, picks Arsenal legend Wenger and Mourinho as best coaches

Cesc Fabregas has overlooked Pep Guardiola in favour of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho as the top two coaches he has worked with during his career. The Spanish midfielder was reluctant to pin his colours to the mast but eventually opted to snub former Barcelona boss Guardiola in favour of the Premier League legends.

Fabregas has enjoyed a dazzling 16-year playing career in senior football, picking up a heap of trophies during his time at some of the most iconic clubs around the world.

The 32-year-old started out at CE Mataro before joining the Barcelona youth academy at the age of 10.

Fabregas honed his talents at the famous La Masia but moved to Arsenal without playing a senior game at the Nou Camp.

His decision was rewarded as he went on to spend eight years with the Gunners under the tutelage of Wenger, emerging as one of the most highly-rated midfielders in the world.

While Fabregas arrived too late to participate in the ‘Invincibles’ season, he did help lift the FA Cup in 2005 while just missing out on a Champions League winners’ medal the following year.

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During that spell, he was part of an all-conquering Spain side that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

A return to Barcelona beckoned in 2011, with Fabregas joining a star-studded squad managed by his childhood hero Guardiola.

Fabregas won six trophies during his three-year stint in Spain, but Guardiola still does not count among the midfielder’s top coaches – despite masterminding the majority of those successes.

Instead, Fabregas has named Mourinho as one of the best he worked under during his career after joining the Portuguese boss at Chelsea in 2014.

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Two titles in three years followed for the 32-year-old at Stamford Bridge, although the second of those was not achieved while Mourinho was at the club.

Speaking live on Instagram with former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot, Fabregas initially refused to say who he believed were the best coaches he has played for.

“I had the best in the world, so I cannot complain,” Fabregas said.

When pressed, he eventually settled on two: “Wenger and Mourinho.”

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Guardiola was not the only manager to be overlooked with no mention of Vicente del Bosque, who oversaw Spain’s 2010 World Cup triumph followed by victory at Euro 2012.

Fabregas has recently spoken about Mourinho in glowing terms, with the Monaco midfielder revealing it took just one conversation to convince him to join Chelsea.

“After the week [without an offer from Arsenal] I had to take my chance, I had Manchester City, United and then I spoke to Mourinho – which I didn’t think would ever happen,” Fabregas told the Arsecast podcast.

“To be honest, after I left the room with Mourinho I said “that’s it, I don’t need to talk to anyone else, I’m going to Chelsea.

“What he told me, the team he wanted to make, what he thought of me, how he wanted me to play, this is what I wanted.”

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