'Arsenal will go on' says Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger challenged his Arsenal squad to show life will go on for the Gunners following the sale of captain Cesc Fabregas back to Barcelona.
The 24-year-old, who arrived at Highbury as a raw teenager in 2003, today completed his return to the Nou Camp in a reported £35million deal.
Wenger accepts this time Arsenal could not stand in his way any longer, given Fabregas' desire to move back to his boyhood club.
However, the Gunners boss maintains all is not lost at the Emirates Stadium.
"What is important is to focus on our targets and we wish good luck to Cesc, who is a great player, one of the best players in the world. Life goes on and we want to show we have the needed desire and strength to deal with the situation," Wenger told a news conference ahead of tomorrow's Champions League play-off first leg against Udinese.
"Yes, we lost a world-class player and we are sad about it. We did fight to keep him, but in the end we have as well to respect the desire of the player.
"This club is 125 years old this season and many big players have left the club and the club went on.
"We want to show that we have the strengths and unity to fight as we ever did at this club."
Wenger maintained for Fabregas, the lure of Barcelona was just too strong - and is why Arsenal did not put their captain on the open market, where he would have fetched a much higher fee.
"To get the best out of a player, he needs to be completely committed to where he is. Cesc wanted to go back to his home city," the Arsenal boss added.
"If you understand one thing, it is Cesc did not go for financial reasons, or that he did not love this club - Cesc went because he was desperate to play for his home town club, where he was educated.
"It is very difficult to resist that."
While Wenger accepts there was little he could do to keep Fabregas, the Arsenal boss believes the situation with contract rebel Samir Nasri, who could leave on a free transfer next summer, is completely different.
"The two things are not linked in my spirit," he said.
"Ideally I want Samir Nasri to stay, but as much as we were in a strong position on the contract side with Cesc, the situation is a bit different.
"Hopefully we can sort the situation out."
Wenger expects a response from the players - starting tomorrow against Udinese.
"What is more important than the message is how strong we feel inside as a team. We are determined, we have bought some very good players and overall the feeling inside the squad is very strong and the desire and belief is very strong," the Arsenal boss said.
"But of course that will be encouraged by the results we obtain in the very near future and as well certainly by the fact we can certainly bring one or two players in because we are a bit short."
Wenger, though, knocked down reports Arsenal were about to sign Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazilian midfielder Jadson, having last week denied a move for Juan Mata from Valencia.
"What I want to say is that we are not frightened to spend money, but we have to be convinced the player is better than what we have," the Arsenal boss said.
"That is our main concern, to bring quality. We have quality, but want to add more quality."
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