Arsene Wenger insists there is "no chance" of Cesc Fabregas being sold to Barcelona - and maintains his young Arsenal team can compete with the best this season.
The Gunners captain has once again been strongly linked with a big-money summer move away from Emirates Stadium - his boyhood club Barcelona the latest side said to be weighing up a formal bid.
However, with Arsenal about to embark on what could well be a defining campaign in the quest for a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, Wenger insists all such speculation is wide of the mark.
"Do you really think we sell now our players one day before the championship starts, players who are basic players of the team? There is no chance," declared the Gunners boss, who takes his side to Everton for the opening match of the season tomorrow.
"You cannot stop people from having a lot of creative imagination during their sleepless nights, but that does not mean we will do it."
Wenger himself has resisted the lures of some of Europe's top clubs to remain faithful to Arsenal, whom he has transformed since arriving some 13 seasons ago.
"I believe that in life you are committed to clubs with contracts and in no contract is the colour of your blood described," he said, referring to the pull a return to Spain would have on Fabregas.
"I am more committed than ever to my club, not only this season, but since I have arrived here.
"We are the beginning of a new season now, and it is important that everybody focuses - me, Fabregas everybody else, just on being successful for the club we love, and the best way we can do that is to do well."
Despite the sale of Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor and defender Kolo Toure to Manchester City, Wenger maintains his squad is stronger than this time last year.
So far, Belgian centre-half Thomas Vermaelen is the only new face, although the return to full fitness of Croatia marksman Eduardo leaves Wenger feeling there is plenty of strength in attack.
"We are young and have developed. Why should we not be better in August than we were in March?" said the Arsenal manager, who will be without Walcott tomorrow, but hopes the England forward could be back for the Champions League qualifier against Celtic next week.
"We lost two great players. However, we have bought Vermaelen to replace Kolo and we have Eduardo back, who for me is a great player.
"We have players who develop very well and are young, like [Carlos] Vela, [Nicklas] Bendtner, Walcott, who are all strikers, so I do not feel we are short in these positions."
Wenger insists his squad can deliver come May.
"The ambition is to finish as high as possible. What is as high as possible is to finish first, it is as simple as that," he said.
"The competition is of a high level and many aspire to that, so let's continue to play the game the way we want to play it and I believe we can show that we have made big steps forward."
Wenger maintains Arsenal are no further forward in any potential transfer deals, which have included a look at bringing former captain Patrick Vieira back as well as Bordeaux's £12million-rated Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh and Fulham defender Brede Hangeland, or indeed over a proposed move away for Philippe Senderos to Everton.
"I have all the players in place," said the Arsenal manager.
"If we need to add one or two more, the transfer period is open until August 31.
"Ideally you want not to move any more, but you always have to adjust. If there is a need there, we will do it."
Wenger added: "There are still a lot of players who want to come to Arsenal, because they like the way we play and develop them.
"They feel they get access to top level competition, so I do not think we have a [financial] handicap.
"The market now is a world market, so you can always find good players.
"There are only a few players who have a price which we cannot reach - maybe 10 in the world, but for the rest, we have access to the market."Reuse content