LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has taunted Arsenal by claiming he needed just 20 minutes to persuade Cesc Fabregas to join Chelsea because the former Gunners midfielder didn’t want to return to his old club.
Mourinho signed Fabregas from Barcelona for £27 million ($46 million) earlier in the close-season despite Arsenal having first option to take back the Spain star.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reportedly didn’t want to re-sign Fabregas because he was happy with Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta as main central midfielders.
But Blues boss Mourinho, who has had many verbal jousts with Wenger, couldn’t resist the chance to tweak his rival as he insisted Fabregas had no interest in a reunion with the club he left to join Barcelona in 2011.
“I spoke with him 20 minutes. I think he really wanted to come to us,” said Mourinho, who was talking at a BT Sport question and answer session in London on Friday.
“As you know, Arsenal had an option where they could interfere, but I think he was not open to that, I think he was very, very much in our direction, so it was an easy job for me.”
Mourinho wasn’t finished with Arsenal just yet and he also aimed a jab at Wilshere after the England midfielder was pictured smoking in Las Vegas recently.
“What football players do, millions and millions are watching, lots of kids are watching,” Mourinho said.
“I am not a specialist obviously, but I don’t think if a football player smokes one cigar or cigarette with friends in the summer when he is not training — I don’t think it affects his performance.
“What gets affected is that a kid at home says ‘if a top football player can smoke, then I can smoke’ and it is not a problem.
“It is more a social consequence than a physical consequence.”
After finishing last season empty-handed, Mourinho has been quick to bolster his squad, spending a total of over £80 million on Fabregas, Spain striker Diego Costa, Brazilian defender Filipe Luis and teenage midfielder Mario Pasalic from Hajduk Split.
Chelsea have been linked with several other big names, including German World Cup winner Sami Khedira, also a reported target for Arsenal, and Colombia forward Radamel Falcao.
But Mourinho indicated he wouldn’t be spending any more of owner Roman Abramovich’s money before the start of the Premier League season next month.
“I have to say my club did a fantastic job, and not just because of what we bought, but because we did it in almost record time. The transfer market closes 31 August and we close our market on July 19. We finished the market today,” he said.
“The club did fantastic, we knew the targets, we knew the players and the club attacked them and their clubs at a very early stage.
“We got exactly what we need and what we want. The squad is one which I like very much and I look forward to starting the season.
“The market is open, but we are so happy with what we have.”
With Manchester United under new management with Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and Liverpool revamping their squad following the sale of star striker Luis Suarez, many expect champions Manchester City and Mourinho’s Chelsea to fight it out for the title.
But the Portuguese boss believes the 2014-2015 campaign will be the most difficult to predict.
“Why I like the Premier League so much is that at this moment, nobody knows who is going to win the title,” Mourinho said.
“I know that we want to and I know that we can, but it is the kind of competition where I can’t say.
“At this moment, I think between us, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United, Man City — who is going to be first, who is going to play in the Europa League, I don’t know.”