Arsenal may be heading for a fifth trophyless year in succession, but that, believes Arsène Wenger, provides part of the reason why Cesc Fabregas should dismiss any thoughts of moving to Barcelona and a league in "disarray".
Successive midweek defeats by Barcelona and Tottenham have ended Arsenal's hopes of silverware this season and have been followed by renewed speculation that Fabregas will make the long forecast return home this summer. But, according to Wenger, it is the competitive nature of the Premier League that makes it the best place for the best players, whereas La Liga is dominated by two clubs to the detriment of the rest. A move to Spain, he says, would be a step down to a less competitive level. Instead, Fabregas should stay at the Emirates and honour his contract.
"We have not been in touch with Barcelona over [his] future," said Wenger yesterday. "There is no secret meeting because we do not want to sell our players and anyway I cannot see anybody who has a competitive edge going to Spain. They have two good teams, I confess that. The number three [Valencia] is 24 points behind. This weekend the players [planned to] go on strike because they are not paid.
"It is a league that is in complete disarray.," he added. "I don't know why you want absolutely the best players who play in England to go to Spain. If you are really competitive, you stay in England. That is where the competition is and that is where the best players want to be. I have so many calls from Spanish players who want to join us and want to come here."
Earlier this week, Barcelona denied claims they had agreed not to make a move for Fabregas this summer after the Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, said that informal talks had taken place. Fabregas is contracted to Arsenal until 2014.
"Nobody puts a gun to your head when you sign a contract," said Wenger. "We have more players who want to join us than players who want to leave us. It should be absolutely logical to you that a player who is paid as he is paid respects his contract. I respect my contract because I have loyalty to the players so why should the players not respect theirs?
"We have gone for a policy of development of the team over a longer period. We have stood up for these young players so it is down to them to pay us back, stay together and show that we can be successful together."
With William Gallas out of contract at the end of the season, Wenger, who takes his side to Wigan tomorrow, will have talks with Sol Campbell over the possibility of a new deal. Central defence and a striker are regarded as the priority areas to strengthen but, as ever, Wenger will spend with caution. "We keep our policy always," he said. "We manage within our resources and we will not over-pay the players, we cannot."Reuse content