Cesc Fabregas claims just two of his Arsenal teammates were at his “level” when he decided to leave the club.
The playmaker left the Emirates for boyhood club Barcelona in 2011, before returning to the Premier League to join Chelsea three years later.
And the former Arsenal captain revealed that the limited quality in the Gunners dressing room encouraged him to make his move.
“I was the captain, I always felt so much pressure on myself,” Fabregas told the Arsecast podcast.
“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. ”
Fabregas was ultimately the fist of the trio to leave the club in 2011, with Nasri joining Manchester City a matter of days later and Van Persie going on to win the Golden Boot at Arsenal before a move to Manchester United in 2012.
“Robin, I couldn’t count on him unfortunately for many points of the (2010/11) season because he was injured,” continued Fabregas.
“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?’.”