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29.03.2010 14:05

Cesc and Vilanova meet again

Edgar Fornós

Cesc Fabregas is the captain and undisputed star of Wenger’s young Arsenal side. But in the 2001-02 season, he was part of the Barca youth team that won everything going at the orders of Guardiola’s current number 2, Tito Vilanova.

You might say that Cesc Fabregas has his heart in Barcelona and his head in London. But there’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the main attractions of the Champions League semi-final tie between Barca and Arsenal. On Saturday he picked up a knee injury against Birmingham in the Premier League but both player and manager are hopeful that he’ll recover in time to face his old club. He’s come a long way since his time in the Barca youth academy, while Tito Vilanova has exchanged his role in nurturing young talent to helping Pep Guardiola take Barca to the top of world football.

The generation of ‘87

escaner_1.jpgAlthough Barca has an enviable record in producing home-grown talent, the generation of ‘87’ is really something special. Cesc, along with players such as Piqué and Messi, won everything on offer and can reasonably lay claim to being the best group of players to have come through the Barca youth system. Piqué and Fabregas came up together from the boys’ team onwards until Fabregas moved to Arsenal in 2003.

League champions under Vilanova

Tito Vilanova took charge of the youth team, including Cesc Fabregas, in the middle of the 2001-02 season and took the side to the league championship ahead of an older Espanyol youth side.
Cesc and Vilanova meet again

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An eye for talent
While still in Barcelona, the Arsenal midfielder had already expressed his admiration for Guardiola, Xavi and Iniesta. Speaking in an interview with Barca TV in the 2000-01 season, Cesc explained: “I pay special attention to the way Guardiola moves because he plays in the same position as me and he’s been here for many years. I focus on how he raises his head before passing the ball and the speed with which he does it. I also look at Xavi, who is one of the players who, I suppose, will take over from Guardiola when he goes. And Andres Iniesta is another player I think will go a long way in football – he’s special”.

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