Fabregas urged to join Barça by Iniesta

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The Independent Online

Andres Iniesta reiterated his desire to be reunited with Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona next season. The two Spaniards played a key role in winning the World Cup for their country on Sunday and Iniesta says he would be "delighted" to see the Arsenal man join the Catalan side.

Barcelona are very keen to sign the Arsenal captain and have already had one bid turned down by the Gunners this summer, but Iniesta, who spent several years with Fabregas in Barça's youth team, hopes to be able to link up with him at the Nou Camp next season.

"Let's hope so. Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season. We would be delighted. Not just because he is a team-mate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club," he said yesterday.

"His arrival would give us a huge jump up in quality and he would play his part to help us stay up there competing in the big competitions. We would love him to be here."

Fabregas was pictured in a Barcelona shirt following a practical joke by several of his team-mates at Spain's celebrations in Madrid on Monday.

Barça defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique were the instigators, forcing the shirt over their Spain team-mate's head with the collaboration of Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

The mild-mannered Iniesta, though, says he had nothing to do with the prank. "It wasn't anything to do with me – it was the other two [Puyol and Pique] who carried out the joke," he said.

"He is my team-mate and my friend and I wish him the best, and if he comes, we will all be delighted."

Iniesta also relived the moment of the World Cup final when he received the ball from Fabregas to score the most important goal of his career to date. "It is one of the most beautiful feelings that a person can experience," he said.

"I was just waiting for the pass from Cesc, who was looking phenomenal. It came very quickly and I was so alone [in the area] that I thought I was offside.

"But I controlled it well and when I hit it I knew it had to go in because going to penalties would have been terrible."

Barcelona's public pursuit of their former trainee has left Arsenal less than impressed – as will the pictures of Fabregas being bundled into a Barça shirt by his Spain team-mates during Monday night's celebrations in Madrid.

Wenger is reported to have left new Barcelona president Sandro Rosell with a clear message during a brief encounter at Sunday's World Cup final at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

One bid of £30million has already been flatly rejected, as Arsenal have no intention of selling such a key player, especially one who still has some five years left on his contract.

However, Fabregas made it clear to Wenger before the World Cup that he wanted to return to the Nou Camp.

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