LONDON–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 pounds (US$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 pounds 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. 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.