Arsene Wenger revealed after Wednesday's Champions League demolition of Braga that he always thought Cesc Fabregas would stay at Arsenal in the summer despite being linked with a return to Barcelona.
The Spain international scored twice in the 6-0 romp against last season's Portuguese League runners-up, netting the Gunners' opening goal from the penalty spot before heading home a simple a second.
"He has taken another dimension," said the Arsenal boss of Fabregas after the game. "People forget he is 23, where other players start.
"Cesc has a fantastic influence. What is important is that he leads the team to winning.
"What I like is he gave the ball to Carlos Vela when he could have tried to score a third himself - that reflects the way we want to play the game and on a leader who does what the game wants, not being selfish.
"He arrived here at the age of 16 and enjoys the way we play. What more do you want to be happy?
"Also it is a fantastic opportunity for the players playing alongside him - if you are 18, like (Jack) Wilshere, and you see Fabregas, it is a big opportunity to learn a lot.
"It wasn't easy for him in the summer, he was under a lot of pressure of course, but I never had any doubt that he loves the club and he wants to do well for us.
"He's a leader and he shows that in his attitude on and off the pitch."