GOAL - Robert O'Connor
Patrick Vieira blames Cesc Fabregas for forcing him out of Arsenal, according to the Monaco midfielder.
Fabregas made his debut for the Gunners in 2003 as a 16-year-old after the club prised him away from Barcelona’s academy.
He became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer when he netted at Highbury in a 5-1 League Cup win against Wolves in December of that year, before going on to establish himself as a central figure in Arsenal’s midfield during their Premier League title defence the following season.
Club captain Vieira left Highbury after the end of the 2004-05 season, after scoring a penalty to secure victory in the FA Cup final against Manchester United on what turned out to be his last action for the club. He left for Juventus the following month.
And now the two have been reunited in Ligue 1, with the former France international having assumed control at Nice and Fabregas playing at Monaco after joining from Chelsea in January.
“I saw Patrick Vieira when we played against Nice with Monaco,” Fabregas told Nice-Matin .
“It was very funny because I met him in the locker room before the match, he was with the president of Nice and he said to him while looking at me: ‘President, this is the kid who made me leave Arsenal'.”
The teams played out a 1-1 draw at Monaco’s Stade Louis II in January, days after Fabregas swapped Stamford Bridge for the Principality on the Mediterranean coast.
Monaco have seen a drastic upturn in form since the Spaniard joined them.
The 2017 Ligue 1 champions were entrenched in the relegation zone in January, but a run of four wins in seven games – during which the team have been unbeaten – has seen them drag themselves out of the bottom three.
That upswing has coincided with the return of title-winning manager Leonardo Jardim, who was sacked in October but re-took the reins in January following the disastrous and short-lived tenure of Fabregas' former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.
Henry was sacked in January having won just two league games during his three-month reign and with the club crashing out of the Champions League after finishing bottom of their group.