Wenger issues title challenge to Fabregas

Arsene Wenger has challenged wantaway captain Cesc Fabregas to help drive the Gunners towards Barclays Premier League title next season.

The Spain midfielder, 23, is not scheduled to return to England until after this weekend's Emirates Cup for Arsenal's official photocall on August 5 as, along with Holland striker Robin van Persie, he was given extra time off following the World Cup final.

Before he departed to South Africa, Fabregas is understood to have told Wenger of his desire to leave and rejoin boyhood club Barcelona.

The Catalan club continued a very public pursuit of their former trainee all summer, but Arsenal remain steadfast the midfielder - under contract for another five seasons - is not for sale and have already rejected a £30million offer.

Barcelona, publicly at least, appear to have admitted defeat in their quest to land Fabregas before the transfer window closes at the end of August.

Wenger remains confident his talisman will be fully focussed on playing his part for Arsenal next season, when the Gunners aim to land a first title since the invincible campaign of 2003/2004.

"I always said Cesc Fabregas will be our captain next year and that we want to keep him. Despite all the speculation last season and the whole summer, nothing has changed," declared the Gunners boss, whose side will host AC Milan and Scottish giants Celtic over the next 48 hours.

"Cesc has always said he is committed to the club and he has always shown it.

"The best way to show you are committed is that you give your best when you walk on the football pitch and he has always done that.

"Look at the length of his contract and you will see he has five or six years to go.

"When you sign a contract it means we are committed to a player to pay him and keep him no matter what happens."

Wenger added: "It is important we focus on the targets we have together.

"There is a great attitude and spirit inside the squad and Cesc Fabregas can help us achieve these targets.

"He is now at an age, 23 years old, and he has just won the World Cup. I believe he will grow in authority again for next season.

"The biggest achievement for him now is to help us win the championship."

Whether or not Fabregas will indeed stay on, perhaps just for one more campaign, remains to be seen.

Barcelona defender Carles Puyol, an international team-mate of Fabregas, maintains Arsenal are trying to keep hold of the player against his will.

Wenger, however, insists there will be no more dialogue.

"We do not negotiate. If I want to buy your house and you do not want to sell, you do not negotiate with me, that is completely normal."

Wenger, though, fully expects his captain to knuckle down and get back to what he is paid for, regardless of what may be going on off the field.

"There are all kinds of situations, but I believe what happens after is that when a player stays it is about how much he focused on playing football," said the Gunners boss.

"It is always in the interests of the player to perform.

"If he is a champion, he goes on the football and wants to be the best he can. All the rest is a poor excuse for a football player."

Although Arsenal fans will not get to see the likes of Fabregas and van Persie this weekend, while Abou Diaby, Denilson, Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner - set to miss the start of the season - are also unavailable, Wenger believes the two games will give the rest of his squad a good workout.

"You will see some young players, like [Emmanuel] Frimpong and [Jack] Wilshere, also the new players like [Marouane] Chamakh and [Laurent] Koscielny. It will be good to see them in a competitive environment," said the Gunners boss, whose squad have just returned from a 10-day Austrian training camp.

"I will also learn what condition we are in physically, because we have worked quite hard and with two weeks to go it is important that we can last in the games.

"The third point is how ready our we with our team play? How sharp is our passing and our quick movement off the ball?"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones