Now, Fabregas - a European Championship winner last summer - is widely regarded as one of the finest players in the world.
Out-going Barcelona president Joan Laporta has hinted a deal is already in place to bring Fabregas back next summer, seen as a move to undermine the election campaign of old rival Sandro Rosell, with Agusti Benedito also vying for power at the Nou Camp.
However, Fabregas has nothing else on his mind other than delivering for the Gunners.
"It does not affect me at all," said Fabregas, who was speaking to the media ahead of the Champions League clash with Standard Liege at Emirates Stadium. "This [speculation] has been going for years.
"I don't mind really if it happens, it happens - but it will not change the way I think.
"I do not think about it because I do not want to and I do not think I should.
"I am at a great club, with a great team and am happy.
"We have a long season in front of us, and the last thing I want to do is get disconnected from what I have to do playing for Arsenal, who are the club which pays me.
"I am really looking forward to a great season with Arsenal."
Asked whether he could envisage staying at Arsenal for the whole of his career, Fabregas said: "Why not? I have never really thought about it, staying here all my life, because I am only 22 and you never know what your career will bring - but why not?
"It is my seventh season now, I am really happy, better than ever, so you never know."
Fabregas is Arsenal's leading scorer this season with nine goals, and has grown into his role as team captain since taking the armband from William Gallas.
However he admits it has been a step learning curve.
He said: "It was difficult at the start - I am a guy who does not like to say to everyone 'come on', because I feel I am nobody to say these things.
"I have learned a lot. I know my job and responsibilities as a captain now.
"Everybody is helping me, and together we are all doing very well.
"It is true more than before that if I need to say something now, I feel more capable than maybe a year ago."
Fabregas added: "We can achieve trophies here.
"We have played some finals, been fighting for the Premier League, the Champions League and just not quite done it.
"But I am really happy with this club, focusing on winning things and we are more than capable of doing it this season."
Fabregas feels Arsenal's Premier League defeat at Sunderland on Saturday was down more to a failure to respond following the international break than to any serious flaw in a squad currently without Dutch forward Robin van Persie because of an ankle injury.
Arsene Wenger's men still hold a game in hand on their title rivals - and could claw the deficit back to five points with victory over leaders Chelsea at Emirates Stadium next weekend.
Fabregas said: "The Chelsea game is vital. We have to win, and we will be ready for it.
"Chelsea are a great team, one of the best in Europe, are very strong and have been playing together for a long time.
"They know each other very well, and you can see that on the pitch.
"I respect them a lot, but I know what we can do as well.
"If we play like we can at our best, then we can beat them.
"With the game in hand we have as well, we could still be there.
"But first of all, we think about the Liege game tomorrow, and then about Chelsea, but, yes, it is an important week for us.
Arsenal 3/10, Draw 9/2, Standard Liege 8/1