Fabregas inches towards conclusion on future

World Cup winner Cesc Fabregas will jet off for a well-earned break knowing his future must be resolved one way or another once the rest of the Arsenal squad return from their pre-season training camp in Austria.

The Arsenal captain may have dismissed his Spanish team-mates bundling him into a Barcelona shirt during their victory celebrations as "nothing", but the whole incident has left many Gunners fans less than impressed - with some groups now debating whether the 23-year-old should remain as skipper if he did stay on.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who was today back at the club's training ground, may have told Fabregas to concentrate on the World Cup when informed by his talisman he wanted to return to the Nou Camp, but now as the focus has switched to the future of their side, the Barclays Premier League club hold the upper hand.

Barcelona's new president Sandro Rosell has publicly courted the midfielder, but was given short shift by Wenger during a brief encounter out in South Africa.

The Spaniards - who have already spent big in bringing in David Villa this summer - maintain they will not be held to ransom, with Arsenal having already rejected a £30million offer and one of double that or more which would be needed for Arsenal to even consider the deal is, given Barcelona's apparent financial problems, unlikely to be forthcoming.

Neither Fabregas nor Holland striker Robin van Persie will be asked to join up with the rest of those players who were away at the World Cup for the trip to Austria which follows Saturday's traditional pre-season opener at neighbours Barnet - where the likes of Theo Walcott, controversially left out of Fabio Capello's ill-fated squad, as well as summer signings Marouane Chamakh and French centre-back Laurent Koscielny could feature.

However, the duo are scheduled to return to London ahead of the Emirates Cup on July 31-August 1, which features games against AC Milan and Celtic, who could yet sign former Arsenal veteran Sol Campbell with the defender weighing up his options over several offers of short-term deals.

By then, Wenger will want to know for certain whether or not the club captain is to remain, with only the game away to Legia Warsaw on August 7 ahead of the start to the new domestic campaign at Liverpool.

While it seems inevitable Fabregas will one day return to his boyhood club, Arsenal are hoping they can convince him to remain for at least one more crack at landing a trophy with them.

Fabregas still has five years left to run on his lucrative Arsenal contract and despite all the circus surrounding him this summer, the midfielder has remained coy when directly questioned about whether he will be back at Emirates Stadium.

"I think now the less said about the subject much the better, because these things are worse for everyone when they come to light and people talk more about the matter," Fabregas stated.

"Right now we have to be very calm and what will be will be."

Losing Fabregas would, of course, leave a gaping hole at the heart of his side and little time to find a back-up plan - although England youngster Jack Wilshere is waiting in the wings while a move for free agent Joe Cole could yet materialise despite strong interest from Tottenham.

Otherwise, Wenger seems to be closing in on his final squad to kick off the new season.

Even if Campbell does come on board again, it is likely the Arsenal boss will seek more cover at the back.

Fit-again Johan Djourou is short of match practice after his long-term knee injury, while both William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre seem set to leave at the end of their current deals.

Udinese centre-half Cristian Zapata, former Gunner Matthew Upson, currently at West Ham, Bolton defender Gary Cahill and Fulham's Norway international Brede Hangeland are all on Wenger's radar.

However, should the Gunners boss decide he needs a fresh pair of hands in goal to oust Manuel Almunia, then Arsenal look set to have to spend around £4million to bring in Australian stopper Mark Schwarzer, 37, from Craven Cottage.

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