I never thought this moment could arrive. After everything I experienced and learned at Barça, to leave was not an option. At least until then, it had never been. But throughout 2014-15 season something changed. The possibility of leaving the club where I had lived the best moments of my career made sense. The lack of continuity, of big games, made me feel unfulfilled as I had never felt before. My character has been ambitious and it always will be. I did not wanted to settle down and made a decision: to leave Barcelona.
The destination was, in any case, unbeatable. Chelsea, one of the giants in Europe, they wanted to count on me for their new project. All the pieces fell into place naturally and, in the same week, I played my last game for Barça in the Super Cup and made my debut in the Premier League. I left Barcelona sad for saying goodbye but happy with an exciting challenge I had ahead and, above all, with my head held high for having given everything I had in all training sessions and matches.
Within 15 days I changed from scoring in Tbilisi to win the European Super Cup with Barça to score at The Hawthorns, to win at West Bromwich Albion in my Premier League debut. Between these two goals, many events occurred. There were other teams interested in me, but Chelsea took a firm step forward. Everything speeds up with a phone call from Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s coach. His words were crucial for me to take the decision. First of all he made me feel important. He explained the situation around his team. He told me what he expected of me and I heard what I needed to hear: that I would be an important player and that the team would grow with me in it... He gave me confidence.
I was forced by the schedule to travel to London to undergo a medical check and sign the contract a few days before playing my first match with Chelsea. On Thursday August 20th, the deal was officially announced and on Saturday 22nd we had an important game in Birmingham. I made my debut against West Bromwich Albion and, luckily, I was able to contribute with a goal in a hard-fought victory. I was surprised by the speed of the game, back and forth, very fast and exciting. The stadium was full of cheering fans. The teammates also gave me a warm welcome, from John Terry (the captain) to my good friends from the national team and La Liga.
But I still had something important to do. I returned to Barcelona on Monday to say goodbye, to say "thank you" to all the Barça family, from my colleagues, coaches, managers and employees of the club to the fans. Thanks for making possible my dream of becoming a first team player, which in turn, opened me the doors of the Spanish national team and finally Chelsea. There I had the opportunity to learn from great players and coaches, and now it was time to say goodbye.
Which were my reasons to leave? To play, have minutes. Live new challenges and experience another league, another culture, another big city like London. Otherwise I would not have been honest with myself. The most comfortable situation for me would have been to stay and do well in the photo, continue adding titles and earn a good sum of money. But I felt I had to leave. My life was comfortable off the field, but I wanted to play. If I had never been a coward before, I was not going to be in such an important decision.
The hardest part was leaving so many friends, so many people ... It was a hard, very emotional farewell. Not only colleagues, also the employees, all the people who had bent over backwards to make my life easier, who cared for helping me be well, to grow as a player and as a person, to keep me from getting injured. In the end, the people are what you miss the most. It was certainly a difficult decision, but I had the relief of taking from F.C. Barcelona not only a great life experience and many titles, but also lots of affection.